With 19 minutes to go in the WCC Conference semifinal game Saturday night, the Loyola-Marymount Lions and the top-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs were tied 31-31. The heavily favored Zags were turning the ball over, missing most of their field goal attempts, and missing almost everything from three point range. Alas, for the Lions, four games in four nights, a short bench, and just not enough bullets in the chamber were their undoing. Gonzaga (30-2) wins 66-48 and advances to tomorrow's championship game against the winner of the game between San Diego and Saint Mary's.
Elias Harris was the poster child for how the night went for Gonzaga. After a quiet first half, Harris came alive and finished with 21 points to lead the Bulldogs. Kelly Olynyk, named earlier Saturday to the watchlist for the Wooden award, also played well after a sloppy first half. Olynyk finished the night with only eight points but had eight rebounds to help steady his team.
LMU's Anthony Ireland made a gallant effort to carry the Lions. Time and again Ireland hit off- balance shots and pulled down rebounds, finishing with 19 points and six boards. Without more help, though, the Lions (11-23 on the season, 1-15 in conference play) slowly slipped under water in the second half.
With a win in the championship game tomorrow Gonzaga will be assured of a number one seed in the Big Dance. That will be the motivational speech that Mark Few will give to his troops before the WCC Tournament's final game.