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Gonzaga battles Pepperdine for a tough 89-77 win

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Zags stay undefeated in conference after 4 of 5 games on the road

NCAA Basketball: Gonzaga at Pepperdine Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

As ESPN mentioned numerous times, Gonzaga’s 89 – 77 win at Pepperdine was their 39th straight on the road. Gonzaga was led by Filip Petrusev’s 27 points and his 12 rebounds. The Waves were predictably led by Colby Ross with 23 points and Kameron Edwards chipped in 22. Since Killian Tillie didn’t play tonight, only six Zags scored in double figures.

Speaking of Tillie, telecast started with a shot of him on the bench stating he’s having recurring ankle problems and possible wouldn’t play. Gonzaga’s offense wouldn’t be firing on all cylinders but thank goodness Filip Petrusev was in overdrive. He scored 20 of the Zags 40 first half points and probably played his most aggressive game of the season, scoring and battling under the rim. Pepperdine had no answer for the big man and a majority of the Waves 20 fouls went trying to stop him in the post.

This wasn’t a game heavy on coaching decisions or X’s and O’s. Pepperdine came out willing to go toe to toe with Gonzaga from the opening tip. It appeared Waves coach Lorenzo Romar’s strategy was to try to run the short-handed Zags to the point of exhaustion and it looked like it might work through most of the 1st half. Thankfully, the Waves had no counter for Filip Petrusev who took 15 of Gonzaga’s 31 1st half shots, with 8 of the Zags 14 scores. Even Martynas Arlauskas made a 1st half appearance as the Zags made two great plays at the end of the half to enter the locker room with a four-point lead.

The rest of the team seemed to wake-up in the second half with Joel Ayayi scoring all of his 11 points and Corey Kispert nailing three clutch 3-pointers as the Zags maintained a double-digit lead for most of the last 12 minutes.

The victory ended a brutal road stretch for Gonzaga playing four of their last five games away from the friendly confines of the Kennel. The Zags close the season with 3 of their last four games at home except for a big meeting in Provo next Saturday. St. Mary’s will close the regular season at the kennel on Saturday, 29 Feb.