Gonzaga Downs Pepperdine In Battle Of WCC Undefeateds

Jan. 21, 2010

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SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) -For one night at least, the Gonzaga-Pepperdine rivalry was back in the West Coast Conference.

The two teams had some epic tussles for the WCC title in the late 1990s and early this century, before Gonzaga started to run away with every game.

But the No. 15 Bulldogs needed a career-high 32 points from Matt Bouldin to hold off Pepperdine 91-84 Thursday night and take sole possession of first place in the league.

Elias Harris added 20 points and 13 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season, and Steven Gray had 20 points, as Gonzaga (15-3, 4-0 WCC) won its seventh straight game. They beat Pepperdine for the 17th straight time since 2002.

Keion Bell, who had just three points in the first half, led Pepperdine (7-13, 3-1) with a career-high 37 points, the most by an opponent in the 6-year-old McCarthey Athletic Center. Sean Singletary of Virginia scored 35 points Dec. 17, 2005, for the previous opponent best. Lorne Jackson added 17 points and the Waves scored 55 points in the second half.

"We survived that one," said Bouldin, who made 10 of 16 shots. "But to give up 30-something points to one player in the second half is unacceptable."

Bouldin's big night gives him 1,445 career points and moved him past Doug Spradley and into 14th on the all-time Gonzaga scoring list. He needs 8 points to surpass Gary Lechman for 13th and 12 to move ahead of Derek Raivio and into 12th.

Pepperdine opened the WCC season with three wins, and these were the last two unbeaten teams in league play.

"I'm not big on moral victories," Pepperdine coach Tom Ausbury said. "It's a loss."

Bell, a sophomore guard, seems to play his best games against top opponents, Ausbury said.

"He's not afraid of anybody," Ausbury said. "He kind of took over the game in the second half."

Bell made 14 of 21 shots in the game - 13 of 17 in the second half.

Pepperdine made only two field goals in the first 7:30 and trailed 17-6. The Waves started finding the basket, but still trailed 41-29 at halftime after shooting just 37 percent.

Bell scored 14 of Pepperdine's first 16 points of the second half to cut Gonzaga's lead to 51-45. But Bouldin, Gray and Harris quickly drove Gonzaga to a 64-49 lead with 12 minutes left.

The Waves clawed back and Bell hit a basket and two free throws to cut Gonzaga's lead to 75-68 with 4:50 left.

Harris and Bouldin kept the Zags ahead with inside baskets, and the Waves were forced to foul when they trailed by six with a minute left.

The Bulldogs shot 53 percent. Harris, a freshman, is averaging a double-double over the past seven games.

"We need to figure out some guys who can dig in and get a stop," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said.

Gonzaga is 68-4 in the McCarthey Athletic Center since it opened in 2004. They have also won 20 straight games against WCC rivals.

Before the game, the Bulldogs had a moment of silence for former basketball coach and athletic director Dan Fitzgerald, who died earlier this week.

Few, who started with Gonzaga in 1990 as a graduate assistant to Fitzgerald, opened the game by running "crackdown," a favorite Fitzgerald play. Bouldin scored.

"That was always his play," Few said. "It was emotional for me."

The Bulldogs remain home Saturday to play Loyola Marymount, a 79-39 loser at Portland Thursday.



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