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Courtesy: Torrey Vail

Zags Down Pepperdine For 26th Straight Time To Near Title

Courtesy: Gonzaga Athletics
          Release: 02/13/2014
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SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - Kevin Pangos and David Stockton scored 18 points apiece as Gonzaga beat Pepperdine for the 26th straight time, 83-68 on Thursday night.

It's Gonzaga's longest streak against any team as the Bulldogs moved another step closer to the West Coast Conference regular-season title. The Bulldogs (12-1) held a three-game lead in the loss column over BYU and Saint Mary's entering the week's action. BYU (9-5) fell Thursday at Pacific to give the Cougars five losses while Saint Mary's (9-4) won at home over San Diego. A BYU win at SMC Saturday combined with a Gonzaga win over Loyola Marymount will assure the Bulldogs no worse than a share of the WCC crown.

Przemek Karnowski had 17 points and seven rebounds for Gonzaga (22-4, 12-1 West Coast Conference) and Gary Bell Jr. added 11.

Pangos made four of Gonzaga's 10 3-pointers and Stockton had five assists and three steals to help the Bulldogs rebound after a 60-54 loss at Memphis on Saturday.

“It was a very workmanlike performance by our guys against a really capable team," Gonzaga head coach Mark Few said. "Marty (Pepperdine coach Wilson) has done a really nice job with that team. They are tough to guard when they start making shots like that at all five spots. And those bigs are big and strong, and if you don’t double them you put your guys at risk for either getting fouls or getting scored on.”

Stacy Davis scored 14 points for Pepperdine (14-12, 7-7), which was looking to rebound after an overtime loss to Saint Mary's in its last game. Brendan Lane had 12 and Nikolas Skouen added 12 for the Waves.

Pepperdine last beat the Bulldogs on Jan. 18, 2002 and hasn't won in Spokane since the 1997-98 season.

Pepperdine had three turnovers and managed just two points in the first 3 minutes of the second half and trailed 50-36 after four straight Bell points.

But the Waves got it turned around with a 15-4 run, highlighted by a four-point play by Skouen and a three-point play by Jett Raines, to pull within 54-50.

Stockton ended the stretch with a momentum-changing 3-pointer.

Karnowski scored seven points during a Gonzaga 13-2 run, and had a nice assist for a Sam Dower Jr. layup, as the Bulldogs built a commanding 72-57 lead with 7:11 left.

Gonzaga wouldn't allow Pepperdine to score more than four consecutive points the rest of the way.

“I think we withstood some pretty good offensive runs by them and then settled in," Few noted. "I thought we played really solid "D" in the second half. We held their shooting percentages down and played very efficient offense, and that was the key.”

Pepperdine missed its first four 3-pointers of the game, while Gonzaga made three straight, two by Pangos, to take an early 21-13 lead. Gonzaga made six of its first seven 3-pointers, but the Waves had answers, making 12 of its first 22 field-goal attempts and trailed 33-27.

Stockton's layup, his ninth point of the half, gave Gonzaga its biggest lead in the first 20 minutes at 40-29. Pepperdine only allowed two Gonzaga points in the final 2 minutes of the half and could have trimmed its 42-34 halftime deficit had it not missed four free throws in the final 3 minutes.

Both teams shot over 50 percent in the first half, with the difference coming beyond the arc. Gonzaga made 7 of 14 3-pointers, while Pepperdine made just 3 of 12.

In Gonzaga's last loss to Memphis, the Bulldogs gave up 20 offensive rebounds. The Bulldogs did not allow a single offensive board to Pepperdine in the first half.

Few was especially impressed with the play of Karnowski, especially after challenging him at halftime.

“I thought he was really good in the second half. I challenged him a little bit at halftime, and I thought he was very, very good in the second half," Few said of the 7-1 center. "Good deep post touches, delivering in there. I think he’s the best defender in the conference and he is getting really good to where we don’t have to double with him in there protecting the rim. And he is the one guy we have on our team that can rebound in traffic.”

It was a back-and-forth affair as Gonzaga did not allow a Pepperdine run of more than five points in the opening half.

The Bulldogs conclude their home season Saturday when Loyola Marymount comes to town, and four seniors will be in a Zags uniform for the last time at home as Sam Dower Jr., David Stockton, Drew Barham and Brian Bhaskar say good-bye.

“First of all, it’s an unbelievable group of seniors — it’s their last home one in here. We’re having a remarkable season, so I don’t know what the stat is, but there aren’t that many teams in college basketball that go undefeated on their home floor," Few said. "Look around out West, probably Arizona is maybe the only one, I would guess. Kansas has lost on their home floor, MichiganState has lost on their home floor. There aren’t that many teams that go undefeated on their home floor, so that’s a huge accomplishment. Obviously we want to send these seniors out with a" W." Hopefully, we’ll play our best game of the year. That’s the best way to send them out.”

Gonzaga has now won 27 straight West Coast Conference home games, dating back to Jan. 2011.

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