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Gonzaga hangs on to beat Pepperdine for 22nd straight time

MALIBU, Calif. -- For a few tense moments in the second
half, it appeared Gonzaga was in danger of a second straight road
loss.

Some defensive tweaks and a few baskets quickly erased any
doubts of another upset as Kevin Pangos and Robert Sacre each
scored 15 points to helping Gonzaga (No. 24 AP) beat Pepperdine 72-60 on
Saturday night.

"That's a great win for us, for the fact that we put a lot of
emotion into that last game and we didn't win," Sacre said. "It
was tough, but we responded like champions."

Gonzaga (18-4, 8-2 West Coast Conference) was coming off an
83-73 loss to BYU on Thursday. The Bulldogs' 15-point lead in this
one shrunk to two midway through the second half before they held
on to win their 22nd straight in the series.

Guy Landry Edi scored 13 points and Elias Harris added nine for
Gonzaga, which broke out of a 3-point shooting slump to go 7 of 16
from beyond the arc.

While the loss to BYU will likely knock them from the Top 25,
the Bulldogs' focus has turned to a pair of upcoming games against
Saint Mary's and Loyola Marymount, the two teams competing with
them for first place in the conference.

"These are really big, they definitely have league
ramifications," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "They're at home, so
we need to come out and play really well."

Corbin Moore had 17 points and 10 rebounds and Joshua Lowery
added 11 points for Pepperdine (8-15, 2-10), which lost for the
10th time in 11 games.

The inexperienced Waves put a rocky first few minutes behind
them, shooting 53.6 percent in the second half to make a game out
of it.

"We've told our guys that there is a thin line between the
elite in our league and everyone else. We obviously proved that
tonight," Pepperdine coach Marty Wilson said. "We can play with
everyone in the league if we're doing all the things we need to do.

"We're not good enough yet to take a night off or have two or
three of our guys not play well and still win the game."

The Waves trailed by 14 when their shots from the outside
started to fall. Nikolas Skouen connected on back-to-back
3-pointers and Joshua Lowry later hit a 3 during a 12-0 run that
got Pepperdine within 44-42.

But Pepperdine was never able to get any closer than two points.

Pangos stopped the drought with a 3 from the top of the key.
After Sam Dower hit a jumper for Gonzaga, Jordan Baker missed two
free throws. Pangos answered on the other end with a jumper to make
it 54-48.

"They made a bunch of shots and took advantage of a couple
defensive miscues by us," Few said. "I thought they were the more
aggressive team for that 10-minute stretch. And then we were able
to kind of get our feet back on the ground and flip the switch. I
thought we were the most aggressive team down the stretch."

The Bulldogs entered having shot just 4 of 30 on 3-pointers over
their previous two games.

Pepperdine leading scorer Taylor Darby was held to just six
points on 2-of-6 shooting. Darby, who was plagued by foul trouble,
didn't score his first points of the game until he was fouled while
making a jumper with 3:59 to play.

"With him in foul trouble and sitting on the bench for eight,
10 minutes straight, it kind of took him out of rhythm," Wilson
said.

The Bulldogs wasted little time building a double-digit lead in
the opening minutes. They hit five of their first six shots and all
three 3-pointers.

Pangos, Gary Bell and Edi all connected from long range as
Gonzaga went ahead 17-5. The Bulldogs then turned to a full-court
press that kept the Waves off balance.

Despite suddenly going cold from the outside, the Bulldogs were
able to keep building the lead. Harris had a short hook in the
lane, Sacre made two free throws and Mathis Moenninghoff made an
acrobatic put back during a 6-0 run that put his team up 31-18.

Pepperdine, which went 16½ minutes without a free throw to start
the game, shot 30 percent in the first half. Gonzaga led 35-21 at
the break.

Pepperdine's last win in the series came on Jan. 18, 2002.

"I didn't want to end the winning streak," Edi said. "We had
come in here and get the win, absolutely. We couldn't lose this
game."