LAS VEGAS — Zach Norvell Jr. scored 18 points to lead five players in double figures, and No. 1 Gonzaga beat Pepperdine 100-74 on Monday night in the semifinals of the West Coast Conference Tournament.
Gonzaga (30-2), which has won six consecutive WCC titles, will look for its seventh straight on Tuesday, when it will face the winner of Monday’s late semifinal between San Diego and Saint Mary’s.
Rui Hachimura scored 16 points, Brandon Clarke added 15 and Josh Perkins and Corey Kispert each scored 11 for Gonzaga.
The Bulldogs — who came into the game ranked first in the nation in field-goal percentage (53.4 percent), first in scoring margin (24.9 points per game) and first in scoring offense (89.8) — went 39 for 62 (59.7 percent) from the field en route to their 21st straight victory by double digits.
Gonzaga has won those games by an average margin of 30.1 points.
The Bulldogs have won 37 straight against Pepperdine, including a 92-64 blowout in Spokane this season.
The Waves (16-18) were led by Colbey Ross, who scored a game-high 20 points. Eric Cooper Jr. added 16 points, while Jade Smith had 14.
After falling behind 8-6 early, the Bulldogs erupted for a 23-5 run to seize control.
Gonzaga, which closed as 24½-point favorite, never relinquished its double-digit lead after pulling ahead 24-13 with 9:40 left in the first half.
The Bulldogs got a boost from the return of Killian Tillie, who played for the first time since he suffered a partially torn ligament in his right foot in early February. Tillie was 3 for 4 from the field in the first half, all 3-pointers.
Gonzaga opened the second half on a 32-12 run to put the game out of reach.
Gonzaga: The return of Tillie invoked a huge roar from the sold-out crowd. The 6-foot-10 junior from France had played in only nine games this season after missing the first half of the season with a stress fracture in his ankle, and then re-injuring his foot with the ligament tear on Feb. 7. Tillie finished with nine points and six rebounds in 15 minutes.
Pepperdine: The top 3-point shooting team in the league during the regular season couldn’t find a groove. After hitting 14 of 28 from 3-point range in a 17-point upset of San Francisco in the quarterfinals and going 10 for 19 against Loyola Marymount in the second round, the Waves shot 37.5 percent (9 of 24) from beyond the arc against Gonzaga.
TWO DECADES EARLIER
Monday marked 20 years to the day Gonzaga won its first-ever NCAA Tournament game, over Minnesota. The Bulldogs ousted three major-conference teams in 1999 and became the tournament darlings before falling to eventual champion Connecticut.
During a first-half timeout, former Gonzaga star Adam Morrison was announced as the 2019 WCC Hall of Fame inductee. Morrison, who was courtside as an analyst for the Gonzaga radio network, led the nation in scoring and was the conference’s player of the year in 2006. He led the Bulldogs to three straight conference tournament titles.
Pepperdine: Despite finishing the season two games under .500, the run to the West Coast semifinals and a notable skipper in second-year coach Lorenzo Romar could garner an invite to one of the lower-level postseason tournaments.
Gonzaga: Will play either San Diego or Saint Mary’s in Tuesday’s championship game.