LAS VEGAS - Riding the hot shooting of freshman guard Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga eliminated BYU in the West Coast Conference Tournament semifinals Saturday.
The Bulldogs controlled the game from the opening tip, jumping to a sizable early lead they never relinquished. Pangos scored 30 points on 10-of-17 shooting, often hitting big shots just as BYU appeared to be gaining momentum.
Brandon Davies paced BYU with 17 points, followed by Noah Hartsock, Charles Abouo, and Matt Carlino, who each scored 12. Hartsock had a strong defensive performance, blocking five shots in just his second game back from a frightening knee and ankle injury.
BYU has a chance to make the NCAA tournament, but the Cougars are not a lock. They will have a long week of practice as they await Selection Sunday. BYU has not missed the NCAA tournament since 2006. Head coach Dave Rose closed his postgame press conference remarks with the statement "This team deserves to be in the NCAA tournament."
After receiving only one technical during his Mountain West Conference tenure, Rose received the second of his WCC tenure last night. He was cited for complaining regarding a play in which Gonzaga forward Robert Sacre raised his elbows above his shoulders and contacted Brandon Davies' head. Davies was cited for a foul on the play.
A rivalry continues to develop between the two schools, who have now met four times in the last calendar year. BYU eliminated Gonzaga in the second round of last year's NCAA tournament and again beat Gonzaga at the Marriott Center earlier this season. However, Gonzaga has won the past two meetings - both in dominant fashion.
This marks the Bulldogs' 15th consecutive advancement to the WCC final. They will play St. Mary's for the championship and an automatic NCAA bid Monday night.