Wesley Guides MBB to WCC Championship Game
LAS VEGAS – Byron Wesley scored 25 points and led a second-half run with teammate Kyle Wiltjer as top-seeded and seventh-ranked Gonzaga defeated Pepperdine 79-61 on Monday night to reach its 18th consecutive West Coast Conference tournament championship game.
Wiltjer had 17 points and Przemek Karnowski added 13 for the seventh-ranked Bulldogs (31-2), who will face the winner of the BYU-Portland game for the title.
Leading by two points at halftime, Gonzaga used a 30-12 run over the first 9 1/2 minutes of the second half to take a 65-45 lead. Wesley scored 13 points and Wiltjer 12 during the run.
Stacy Davis scored 15 points for the Waves (18-13) but shot just 5 for 15. Jeremy Major added 12 points.
After Pepperdine tied the game in the first minute of the second half, the Bulldogs scored 10 consecutive points to take control. Wiltjer and Gary Bell Jr. each hit 3-pointers, and Wesley scored on a dunk after stealing the ball from Davis.
In contrast to its quarterfinal win over San Francisco, Gonzaga shot exceptionally well in the opening half, making 9 of its first 15 shots and breaking out to a 17-10 lead.
Gonzaga was successful getting the ball inside to the 7-foot-1 Karnowski, who had little difficulty scoring over Pepperdine's 6-10 Nate Gehrig and 6-7 Jett Raines. Karnowski made 4 of his first 5 shots and had nine points at the break.
Gonzaga: Wiltjer missed the final 5 minutes of the Zags' quarterfinal win over San Francisco on Saturday after landing on his left hip, but he started Monday's game. He scored just three points in the first half but made three consecutive 3-point shots during Gonzaga's pivotal run.
Pepperdine: The Waves were hoping to reach the WCC conference tournament championship game for the first time since 2002. Instead, they suffered their 29th consecutive defeat to Gonzaga.
Gonzaga: WCC championship game Tuesday night.
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