Bulldogs Advance To WCC Championship
March 9, 2003
SAN DIEGO (AP) - Blake Stepp scored 28 points Sunday night to lift Gonzaga to a 73-52 win over Saint Mary's of California and a shot at a record fifth straight West Coast Conference tournament championship.
Gonzaga (23-7), the regular-season conference champion, is making its sixth consecutive appearance in the title game and will face host San Diego in Monday's final.
Stepp scored 19 of his points in the second half as the Bulldogs built on a 31-24 halftime lead. He hit a jumper on Gonzaga's first possession, then had two straight assists, including an alley oop-pass to Ronnie Turiaf for a dunk and a 40-27 lead.
Stepp then scored on three straight possessions, the last a 3-pointer that put Gonzaga ahead 50-34 with 14:23 to play.
Daniel Kickert led No. 5 seed Saint Mary's (15-15) with 19 points and Frederic Adjiwanou had 12.
Stepp hit 14-of-16 free throws as Gonzaga went 21-for-27 from the line and hit 56 percent of its shots from the field in the second half.
As one of the two top seeds, Gonzaga was playing its first game in the
tournament, having drawn a two-round bye.
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