No. 6 Bulldogs Win Fourth Straight WCC Title Over Pepperdine, 96-90
March 4, 2002
By BERNIE WILSON
SAN DIEGO (AP) - When Dan Dickau gets that look in his eye and starts sizing up long 3-pointers late in the game, watch out.
The No. 6 Gonzaga Bulldogs are going back to the NCAA tournament on an all-time high, thanks to a breathtaking shooting display by their star point guard.
Dickau scored 19 of his 29 points during a 32-10 run, and the Zags rallied to beat top-seeded Pepperdine 96-90 Monday night for their fourth straight West Coast Conference tournament title and automatic NCAA bid.
Dickau, the conference player of the year and tournament MVP, and fellow guard Blake Stepp took control during a span of 7 minutes, 30 seconds. The Zags (29-3) went from a 63-56 deficit to an 88-73 lead with 4:18 left.
Dickau started the run when he grabbed a rebound and put it in with 11:45 left. He punctuated it with four 3-pointers, including a four-point play.
Until then, Dickau shot poorly and scored only six points, including two in the first half.
"I wasn't hitting too many shots early in the game and I didn't have my rhythm," Dickau said. "It was a thing where I knew I had to hit one shot and bang, the basket's going to start looking bigger.
"I didn't want to go out in this game and if we lost, I didn't want things to be where hey, I didn't play my best. I figured I needed to get more assertive, more aggressive, and push the action."
Coach Mark Few said he wasn't surprised, "but we should be. Some of those shots he hit were amazing. He's got an amazing quality about hit. I think he's magical down the stretch."
Said teammate Zach Gourde: "It's almost scary because most of the guys just stand around and watch in amazement."
The Waves felt almost helpless.
"We had them under control," Pepperdine forward Jimmy Miggins said. "Then he started getting some good looks and knocking 'em down. There's not much you can do."
Stepp scored 10 in the run, including two 3s, and finished with 24.
The game between WCC regular-season co-champions got testy in the final minute when Miggins knocked down Dickau on an inbounds play. When an irate Dickau went up to Miggins, he shoved Dickau down again and was called for an intentional foul with 43.8 seconds left. Dickau made one free throw for a 93-87 lead.
Pepperdine (22-8) closed to 94-90 on a 3 by Craig Lewis with 6.8 seconds left.
It was a big day for the Zags. Earlier Monday, they moved up one spot in the AP poll to No. 6, their highest ranking ever. Then they won their school-record 29th game and ran their winning streak to 14, tying the school record.
The old record of 28 wins was set by the 1998-99 team that reached the NCAA West Regional finals before losing to eventual national champion Connecticut.
Gonzaga, the little school from Spokane, has reached the NCAA regionals three straight seasons.
Coach Mark Few said Friday he felt the Zags could get in the neighborhood of a No. 3 seed in the NCAAs by winning the conference tourney. In their previous three NCAA appearances, the Zags were seeded 10, 10 and 12.
Pepperdine and Gonzaga shared the regular-season title at 13-1 after splitting their series, with each team winning on its homecourt. Pepperdine was top-seeded in the tournament because of winning a coin flip with the Zags.
"We felt all along that this is our league and we didn't want to share anything," Dickau said. "We were disappointed we didn't win the outright league title, but we knew if we came down and took care of the conference tournament that it'd be OK."
On a neutral court, they played a wild game.
Pepperdine led 45-44 at halftime, and looked like it might get its fourth win this season over a Top 25 team after making three straight 3s, including two by Mike Westphal, son of coach Paul Westphal, to take a 58-51 lead with 13:41 left.
The lead was still seven after Miggins grabbed a rebound and emphatically slammed it in with 12:00 left, but that's when Dickau finally found his touch.
Pepperdine's Devin Montgomery scored 27, and Miggins had 12.
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