Killian Tillie picked up where he left off at the Orleans Arena during last year’s WCC Tournament, converting all three of his 3-point attempts in his return to action after missing the last seven games with a plantar fascia injury. Gonzaga had six players score in double figures led by Zach Norvell’s 18 points, and two more players just a bucket away from joining them. Pepperdine’s Colbey Ross led all scorers with 20 points, though most of that damage came long after Gonzaga’s starters were resting on the bench in the second half.
After securing three wins in three days, Pepperdine was out of upsets and had no answer for a full strength Gonzaga squad that is a legitimate national championship contender and the class of the WCC. The Waves kept it close for the first five minutes, but things went sideways pretty quickly thereafter as Tillie’s return catalyzed Gonzaga at both ends of the floor and sparked a 13-0 run that quickly put the game to bed.
Gonzaga’s offense looked balanced and deadly, and the ball moved freely as Pepperdine failed to find any answers to slow down the nation’s most efficient attack. Losing the turnover battle didn’t help the Waves, as Gonzaga’s defense forced 12 first half turnovers and stifled their three-point shooting en route to taking a 47-26 lead at the break.
Things did not get any better for Pepperdine after halftime. In fact, they only got worse as Gonzaga continued its annihilation of the opposition. Every time a Wave turned his head, a Zag was flying by for a dunk or spotting up for a wide-open three.
Gonzaga scored 33 points through the first 10 minutes of the second half to take an 80-40 lead in an absolutely beautiful stretch of basketball. It was pure art in motion. Though Pepperdine put together a run against Gonzaga’s bench to flatter the scoreline, there was no doubting which team was the class of the conference. The Bulldogs are on the precipice of winning all their conference games by double-digits. If their play in the championship game against the winner of SMC-USD is anything like it was against Pepperdine, you can bet they’ll get it done.