Bulldogs Cruise Past Pepperdine 72-54 To Move Closer To Title

Feb. 20, 2010

Box Score |  AP Photo Gallery 

MALIBU, Calif. (AP)--Gonzaga rebounded from a disappointing conference defeat with a rout.

Matt Bouldin had 18 points and five assists, and Elias Harris scored 13 points to lead No. 13 Gonzaga to a 72-54 victory over Pepperdine on Saturday night.

Robert Sacre and Steven Gray scored 12 points apiece and Sacre added a career-high six blocks for the Bulldogs (22-5, 10-2 West Coast), who have won 14 of 16 games.

On Thursday night, Gonzaga lost 74-66 to Loyola Marymount for only the third time since 1996.

"I just challenged them," Bulldogs coach Mark Few said of his players. "You can't approach these games like that. You're getting everybody's best shot."

Bouldin said that Few's approach worked.

"That LMU game, we didn't come out with the same kind of fire we had all season," Bouldin said. "Tonight, we really made a focus to push the ball and to play defense the way we have all season. It really made the difference."

Gonzaga made its first 10 shots in building a 30-11 lead with 9:59 left in the first half. Gray scored 10 points during the game's first 4:45 and Bouldin added eight points during the run.

Pepperdine's Keion Bell, the West Coast Conference's second-leading scorer, took only four shots in the first half and missed three. He finished the half with three points.

"He's a really crafty, shifty player one-on-one," Gray said. "He handles the ball so well. But the guys behind me just built a wall against him. When he was getting the ball and driving, he was looking at three or four sets of eyes."

The Bulldogs led by as many as 24 points, scored 28 points in the lane and 16 points off turnovers, and forced the Waves to shoot 27.1 percent for the game.

Gonzaga needs one more victory to secure the top seed in the West Coast Conference tournament and at least a tie for its 10th consecutive regular-season championship.

Bell finished with 17 points and tied a season best with 10 rebounds for the Waves (7-21, 3-9), who have lost nine consecutive games and 11 of 14. Mychel Thompson added 11 points.

Gonzaga (22-5, 10-2) extended its winning streak against Pepperdine to 18 games dating from 2002.

With the University of Portland's (8-4 WCC) 77-68 overtime loss at LMU Saturday night, only Saint Mary's College (9-3 WCC) stands in the way of the Bulldogs wrapping up a 10th straight WCC regular-season crown. With two games remaining the Bulldogs need one win or one SMC loss to clinch no worse than a tie for the title.

Gonzaga hosts Santa Clara University Thursday and the University of San Francisco Saturday to bring the curtain down on the WCC season. SMC hosts Pepperdine and LMU to conclude WCC play.



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