No. 7 Gonzaga surges past Pepperdine and into WCC tournament final

Top-seeded Gonzaga gets rolling in second half to beat Pepperdine 79-61 and reach 18th straight WCC title game

Byron Wesley scored 25 points and led a second-half run with teammate Kyle Wiltjer as seventh-ranked Gonzaga defeated Pepperdine, 79-61, Monday night in Las Vegas to reach its 18th consecutive West Coast Conference tournament championship game.

Wiltjer had 17 points and Przemek Karnowski added 13 for the top-seeded Bulldogs (31-2), who on Tuesday will face the winner of the late game between Brigham Young and Portland. The winner of that game will be WCC champion and earn the league's automatic NCAA tournament berth.

Leading by two points at halftime, Gonzaga used a 30-12 run over the first 9 1/2 minutes of the second half to take a 65-45 lead. Wesley scored 13 points and Wiltjer had 12 during the run.

Stacy Davis scored 15 points for the Waves (18-13) but made only five of 15 shots. Jeremy Major added 12 points.

After Pepperdine tied the score in the first minute of the second half, the Bulldogs scored 10 consecutive points to take control. Wiltjer and Gary Bell Jr. hit three-pointers, and Wesley scored on a dunk after stealing the ball from Davis.

In contrast to its quarterfinal win over San Francisco, Gonzaga shot exceptionally well in the opening half, making nine of its first 15 shots and breaking out to a 17-10 lead.

But the Bulldogs led by just two at halftime, 35-33, partially because their offense slumped over the final minutes while Pepperdine maintained pressure defensively to stay in the game.

Gonzaga was successful getting the ball inside to the 7-foot-1 Karnowski, who had little difficulty scoring over Pepperdine's 6-10 Nate Gehrig and 6-7 Jett Raines. Karnowski made four of his first five shots and had nine points at the break.

In the WCC women's tournament:

Brigham Young 61, Gonzaga 55: Makenzi Morrison scored 18 points, making four of six three-point attempts, and the Cougars (22-9) upset the top-seeded Bulldogs (24-7) to advance to the tournament final. Lexi Eaton scored 16 points, including 10 free throws, for BYU, which will face San Francisco on Tuesday.

San Francisco 65, San Diego 57: Taj Winston scored 18 points on eight-for-12 shooting to lead the Dons (19-12) past the second-seeded Toreros (24-6).

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times