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Courtesy: Torrey Vail

Bulldogs Top BYU; Clinch No. 2 Seed Into WCC Tournament

Courtesy: Gonzaga Athletics
          Release: 02/23/2012
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SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - Elias Harris remembered the spanking BYU gave Gonzaga when the teams met on Feb. 2 in Provo.

Harris made sure there was no repeat as he scored 19 points and grabbed a career-high equaling 16 rebounds in Gonzaga's 74-63 victory on Thursday in a showdown for second place in the West Coast Conference.

"They kicked our rear ends down there," Harris recalled. "Tonight, we competed like we can. That made a big difference."

Gonzaga's defense shut down the BYU offense, holding the Cougars to 25 percent shooting in the first half and 30 percent for the game

Brandon Davies scored 23 points for BYU (23-7, 11-4), which had won five straight games.

Gonzaga (22-5, 12-3) kept alive faint hopes of winning a portion of a 12th consecutive league regular-season title. Its 11 straight titles are second in Division I history only to the 13 won by UCLA. Gonzaga trails Saint Mary's by one game in the standings. Each team has one league game left.

Regardless of whether they tie for the league title, Gonzaga clinched the second seed in next weekend's WCC tournament, giving the Zags a bye into the semifinals. Saint Mary's has clinched the No. 1 seed.

Gonzaga shot just 39 percent in the victory. But the Bulldogs made 36 of 44 free throws while the Cougars were just 9 of 16.

"We did a great job, especially early, a much better job of attacking their zone," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "We moved the ball and got great shots against it."

Kevin Pangos added 18 points and Gary Bell Jr. 12 for Gonzaga.

Matt Carlino had 18 points for BYU, and Davies added 10 rebounds.

"Our effort was tremendous," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "We rebounded the ball. We guarded the ball. But we didn't score the ball very well, and that was the difference in the game."

BYU won the teams' first meeting as conference rivals earlier this season. But leading scorer Noah Hartsock, averaging 17 points per game, barely played Thursday because of a knee injury. He had 24 points and 14 rebounds in the first game against Gonzaga.

"I know he wanted to try to play and he surprised us a lot of times where he's been able to function," Rose said. "But tonight, he just didn't have any power in that leg."

Leading by 10 at halftime, Gonzaga went on a 7-0 run early in the first half for a 44-29 lead. Gonzaga went 7 minutes without a field goal midway through the second half, but BYU could not capitalize and trailed 54-41 with 6:41 left.

Davies scored three straight BYU baskets to cut Gonzaga's lead to 59-52 with less than 4 minutes left. But two free throws by Pangos and a thunderous dunk by Harris built the lead back to 11 points, and BYU was forced to foul.

In the first half, Gonzaga jumped to a 15-7 lead as BYU had trouble finding the basket in its first trip to the McCarthey Athletic Center. Davies had a couple of baskets as BYU cut the lead to 15-14. But Pangos' 3-pointer lifted Gonzaga to a 25-15 lead.

Gonzaga led 37-27 at halftime despite shooting just 35 percent. BYU was worse, making just 11 of its 44 shots for 25 percent.

Gonzaga has not lost four WCC games in a season since 1998.

Gonzaga is 103-7 in the McCarthey Athletic Center since the building opened in 2004.

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