LAS VEGAS — Elias Harris had 21 points and eight rebounds to lead No. 1 Gonzaga over Loyola Marymount 66-48 on Saturday night in the semifinals of the West Coast conference tournament.
Bidding for a top seed in the NCAAs, the Bulldogs (30-2) advanced to play for the league championship Monday night at 7 p.m. against Saint Mary's.
Challenged in the first half by a team that went 1-15 in WCC play this season, Gonzaga turned up the defensive intensity and opened the second half on a 19-5 run to seize momentum.
Though it needed a last-second basket by Sam Dower to take a 27-26 lead into halftime, Gonzaga outscored the Lions 39-22 in the second half.
Kevin Pangos added 14 points, and Kelly Olynyk had eight points and eight rebounds for the Zags.
Anthony Ireland led Loyola Marymount (11-23) with 19 points.
After shooting 40 percent (8 of 20) from the field in the first half, including 4 of 10 from beyond the arc, the Lions shot a dismal 7 of 29 (24.1 percent) from the field in the second half. LMU was an abysmal 1 of 10 with 3-point attempts.
Conversely, the Zags turned around their horrendous first half of shooting — which saw them shoot just 9 of 24 from the field and 1 of 7 with 3's — and was a blistering 11 of 22 from the floor, including 4 of 7 from long range.
The Lions forced 45 turnovers — and committed only 32 — in their first three games of the tournament, but last night came up against a Gonzaga team much more disciplined than their previous foes, and bit more tenacious on defense.1 comment on this story
The Bulldogs, who earned the WCC's top seed for the 13th time, were the first team to go 16-0 in the league in the two years of the 16-game format. It was their fourth undefeated West Coast campaign, also going unbeaten in 2004, 2006 and 2009, when the conference played a 14-game schedule, prior to BYU joining the conference.
SAINT MARY'S 69, SAN DIEGO 66 (OT): The Toreros held Matthew Dellavedova to seven points on 2 of 12 shooting, but Beau Levesque scored 19 points off the bench and Brad Waldow led all scorers with 23 points.
Johnny Dee led San Diego with 18 points.