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Gonzaga thrashes West Virginia 77-54 to advance to the second round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament

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That was a good way to open a tournament.

NCAA Basketball Tournament - West Virginia v Gonzaga Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Playing 75 miles from their campus and in their backyard didn’t help much for an overmatched West Virginia Mountaineers team that was crushed by the 7th-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs by a score of 77-54.

Gonzaga’s starters weren’t needed for heavy minutes in a game which turned into a laugher pretty quickly. Four different Zags scored in double figures and the team shot 56% from the field, led by Rob Sacre and Gary Bell with 14 points each. The victory would be Sacre’s last tournament win before graduating and moving on to the NBA, and it was the first of many for Bell as it was his tournament debut. Kevin Pangos added 13 points and 5 assists, while Elias Harris chipped in 10 points with 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 steals in a well-rounded performance. Ryan Spangler came off the bench to provide 21 minutes and finished with 4 points and 8 rebounds. Mike Hart provided his trademark juice over 17 minutes and picked up 5 points (including a 3-ball!) and 4 rebounds.

The Zags Kevin Pangos raced out to a quick start, making a splash in his first NCAA Tournament appearance with a masterful performance and beginning to etch his Gonzaga legacy.

Btu seriously, the energy unleashed in the first half by the entire squad was intoxicating, or suffocating if you were a Mountaineer. Gonzaga took the wind out of West Virginia’s sails very quickly, and reeled of a 16-1 run midway through the first half that served as the knockout punch for a WVU squad that talked a big game in the run up to this contest, but failed to back it up once the ball was tipped.

Pangos didn’t do it alone, as his fellow freshman backcourt mate in Gary Bell Jr. was no slouch either in his tournament debut. Bell got in the back pocket of WVU’s guards, and was dynamic running the floor as the Zags blew it open in the first half.

Gonzaga’s frontcourt, led by Sacre, succeeded at slowing WVU’s interior duo of Kevin Jones and Deniz Kilicli which disrupted the Mountaineer offense for most of the evening and put this game to bed without much trouble. The Zags continued to turn the screws on the Mountaineers in the second half without even having to get out of second gear. If you looked closely enough, you could see the WVU players waving the white flag as they ran lifelessly up and down the floor.

The heavy pro-Mountaineer crowd never had much to cheer for, as the early Gonzaga onslaught meant they were never a factor in the building. The Zags advanced to the Round of 32 for a tough matchup they ultimately lost against No. 2 seed Ohio State and first team All-American Jared Sullinger.