Pepperdine, San Diego reach WCC men’s tournament semifinals – VIDEO

Quarterfinal Saturday did not work out well for teams playing their first games in the West Coast Conference men’s basketball tournament at Orleans Arena.

San Francisco and Brigham Young, which had byes into the round, suffered upset losses to teams playing their third game in three days.

Pepperdine pulled away late for an 89-72 win over the Dons, and San Diego eliminated the Cougars by coming out hot from the field in an 80-57 victory in a game that it led by 44 points in the second half.

BYU looked like a team that could have used a game or two to get settled into the tournament, as the Cougars fell behind immediately and never made the game competitive.

Coach Dave Rose said he thinks the format might have something to do with the teams that played in the building the two previous days scoring upsets over the higher-seeded teams.

“The fact you don’t shoot in the gym you’re playing in when it’s all on the line, the whole season what everyone wants to do is make the NCAA Tournament, and everyone’s got a chance, and you come to the arena you’re going to play in and you don’t shoot and then you’re playing in the second game and you have 20 minutes to warm up?” Rose said. “Someone’s got to re-evaluate this. There’s too much on the line.”

Rose’s team missed its first six shots and fell behind 13-0. The Cougars finished 18 of 58 from the field and 1 of 17 from 3-point range.

BYU reserve Luke Worthington said it was difficult to ignore that the game was slipping away.

“You’re definitely aware of it,” he said. “The scoreboard is pretty big.”

Isaiah Pineiro had 27 points and 12 rebounds for San Diego. Freshman Finn Sullivan went 5-for-6 on 3-pointers and finished with 17 points.

“This is a lot of fun to be a part of just watching these guys play,” San Diego coach Sam Scholl said. “The determination they’re showing possession by possession, being the aggressors from the moment the ball is tipped. How they’re playing for each other is a really special thing to see.”

Pepperdine continued its similar roll after knocking off Pacific and Loyola Marymount in the first two rounds. Coach Lorenzo Romar said he thinks his team is peaking at the right time.

“For three days, our team has really come together and stayed together,” he said. “I think that’s made a huge difference in how we’ve been able to perform. A team that believes in one another at this time of year, you can see what’s going on. We still have a long way to go in this tournament, but when you talk about togetherness, it breeds resiliency and courage, and that’s what our guys have had. That’s why we’re sitting there right now with another victory.”

The next one certainly won’t be easy. The Waves draw No. 1 Gonzaga, which had a bye into the semifinals, at 6 p.m. Monday. San Diego will meet Saint Mary’s at 8:30. The winners play at 6 p.m. Tuesday for the championship.

“They (Gonzaga) have one of the best offenses in the country,” Pepperdine star guard Colbey Ross said of the Bulldogs after leading the Waves with 26 points and nine assists. “From Rui (Hachimura) to (Brandon) Clarke and (Josh) Perkins and then you add (Zach) Norvell, those are some really good players, and they know what it takes to win.”

Romar thinks it’s the other side of the floor at which Gonzaga has taken the next step.

“I think it’s the most versatile Gonzaga team ever,” he said. “They guard better than people might think, and a lot of that has to do with their bigs. Clarke, Rui, those guys are so versatile, they can switch onto guards.”

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-277-8028. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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