Gonzaga storms past BYU, North Dakota State wins the Summit League final
Gonzaga 75, BYU 64: A first-half scoring barrage from just about every Gonzaga player not named Kevin Pangos made for a relatively easy WCC Championship as the Bulldogs captured their 13th conference title. After jumping out to a 44-27 lead at the break, Gonzaga kept finding good looks, sharing the basketball and getting Sam Dower (20 points, 13 rebounds) touches.
While the WCC tournament wasn't without its heart-palpitating moments for the Bulldogs -- David Stockton needed a game-winning layup with two seconds to play to beat Santa Clara -- Gonzaga showed up in the final as it has so often under Mark Few. You don't get to 16 straight NCAA Tournament appearances without knowing how to close out the regular season.
The offensive output may have been story 1A, but 1B was easily how well the Bulldogs were able to defend BYU's Tyler Haws early in the game. The explosive scorer, who averaged 23.4 points per game on almost 47 percent shooting coming in, still got his 24 points, but a majority of them came after Gonzaga had already put together its big lead. On the night, the Cougars shot just 35.6 percent overall and looked confused as to how to put together scoring runs until midway through the second half when they finally started chipping away at the lead. Stockton facilitated the Gonzaga offense with five assists in that first half. He finished with four points, seven assists and five steals.
BYU finds itself squarely on the bubble, although the Cougars can certainly make a good case for why they deserve to be in the tournament field. SI.com's Michael Beller had BYU "In The Mix" coming into Tuesday's game:
BYU (23-10, RPI: 34, SOS: 43): The Cougars survived a challenge from San Francisco in the WCC semis, and will now take on Gonzaga in the championship on Tuesday. Bubble teams are likely cheering for the Zags, but BYU has a resume that could be worthy of an at-large bid. They split their regular season series with Gonzaga, and own a road win over Stanford and neutral-court win over Texas.
North Dakota State 60, IPFW 57: Despite being held to just 5-of-14 shooting, Taylor Braun still hit the one that mattered most. The Summit League player of the year got an and-one with just 12 seconds to play to put North Dakota State up 59-55 and and effectively send the Bison to the dance. Boasting a 25-6 record, NDSU could be a trendy upset pick when the brackets come out. The Bison are extremely efficient offensively, hit a good percentage of their shots and take care of the basketball. It's pretty much what you expect from a team that is the 23rd most experienced in the nation, according to KenPom. The loss is sour for IPFW (24-10, 10-4 Summit), which actually has the most wins of any team in the state of Indiana.