LAS VEGAS – Elias Harris had 21 points and eight rebounds to lead No. 1 Gonzaga over Loyola Marymount 66-48 on Saturday night in the semifinals of the West Coast conference tournament.
Bidding for a top seed in the NCAAs, the Bulldogs (30-2) advanced to play for the league championship Monday night against the winner of Saturday’s late semifinal between Saint Mary’s and San Diego.
Challenged in the first half by a team that went 1-15 in WCC play this season, Gonzaga turned up the defensive intensity after halftime and opened the second half on a 19-5 run to seize control.
After needing a last-second basket by Sam Dower to take a 27-26 lead into halftime, Gonzaga outscored the Lions 39-22 in the second half.
Kevin Pangos added 14 points, and Kelly Olynyk had eight points and eight rebounds for the Zags.
Anthony Ireland led Loyola Marymount (11-23) with 19 points.
Gonzaga, which won the WCC regular-season title for the 12th time in the last 13 years, is trying to reclaim the tournament crown Saint Mary’s snatched from the Bulldogs last season with a 78-74 overtime win in the championship game.
Loyola Marymount had lost 14 straight games heading into the conference tournament. But the Lions won three in a row at Orleans Arena, including an overtime victory against San Francisco and a two-point win over Santa Clara, for a surprising run to the semifinals. Gonzaga, which went 16-0 in league play, received a bye into the semifinals and hadn’t played in a week.