Monday , Feb , 20 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Gonzaga seeks outright WCC crown

(Sports Network) – The red-hot Gonzaga Bulldogs enter tonight’s contest
as an obvious favorite against the Pepperdine Waves in West Coast
Conference action. Gonzaga clinched at least a share of its sixth consecutive
league title with a 79-70 victory over Loyola Marymount on Saturday
and goes for the outright crown this evening. The Bulldogs remain unbeaten
in conference play, and it would be shocking to see them suffer a WCC loss
in the waning weeks of this regular season. They carry a 13-game winning
streak into tonight’s tilt, and their only three losses this season have
come against outstanding opponents Memphis, UConn and Washington.

As for Pepperdine, it has lost four consecutive games to fall to 7-16
overall and 3-8 in league play. The Waves were most recently in action on
Saturday when they dropped an 81-76 decision to Portland. Perhaps the
only positive that can be pointed out is that six of the team’s seven wins
have come at home. Gonzaga rolled to a 102-73 victory over Pepperdine last
month, but the Waves still own a narrow 31-29 edge over the Zags in the all-
time series.

Gonzaga limited Loyola Marymount to 38.1 percent shooting from the floor on
Saturday, including a 4-of-15 effort from three-point range. Meanwhile, the
Zags were able to connect on 54 percent of their field goal attempts to go
along with a 39-29 rebounding advantage. The nation’s best player stole the
show with an unforgettable effort, as Gonzaga star Adam Morrison poured in a
career-high 44 points on 14-of-20 efficiency from the floor, including an 8-
of-13 effort from behind the arc. That stellar showing helped to overshadow
the fact that forward J.P. Batista was held to six points.

Morrison and Duke’s J.J. Redick continue to battle for the national scoring
lead, a struggle that Gonzaga’s go-to guy is winning at the moment. He is
posting 29.4 ppg, and there is no limit to his offensive arsenal. Batista is
contributing 19.5 ppg and 9.0 rpg, so the fact that he was completely shut
down by the Lions was a bit surprising.

Pepperdine has struggled to generate offense this season, as the club is only
averaging 65.9 ppg on 41.1 percent shooting from the floor, including 31.8
percent from three-point range. The Waves are surrendering 72.6 ppg to their
opponents and are being outrebounded by 3.2 rpg. Also worthy of mention is the
fact that they have attempted 111 fewer free throws than their foes. Michael
Gerrity was the top scorer for Pepperdine, as he was netting 14.8 ppg before
suffering a foot injury that has kept him off the court. Tashaan Forehan-Kelly
is the only other double-digit scorer for the Waves, as he is posting 14.5 ppg
to go along with 5.6 rpg.

In the six-point loss to Portland last time out, the Waves connected on only
35.5 percent of their field goal attempts in the second half after a 52.6
percent showing in the opening period. Chase Griffin scored a career-high 21
points to lead the way in defeat, and Forehan-Kelly managed 14 points before
fouling out.