Gonzaga is close to capping off another undefeated season in West Coast Conference play. Josh Heytvelt has played a large role in the Bulldogs’ continued success against Pepperdine.
After earning their ninth straight WCC title, the 17th-ranked Bulldogs and their leading scorer look to put together another dominating effort versus the Waves on Saturday night.
Gonzaga (20-5, 11-0) extended the longest active league title run in the nation with a 91-54 pounding of Loyola Marymount on Thursday night.
It’s the 12th straight 20-win season for the Bulldogs, who are tied with the Kentucky teams of 1944-52 for the fourth-longest league winning streak in NCAA history. UCLA has the record with 13 straight conference titles from 1967-79.
“It never gets old,” coach Mark Few said. “A streak like that speaks volumes on the program and how it hasn’t let up.”
The Bulldogs, who will have the top seed in the conference tournament, are three wins away from their third undefeated WCC season in the past six. After facing Pepperdine (8-19, 5-6), Gonzaga will travel to Santa Clara on Thursday night and San Diego two days later.
“It doesn’t get any easier,” Few said.
The Bulldogs have certainly looked comfortable against the Waves in recent years, winning 15 straight since an 88-79 road loss Jan. 18, 2002. Gonzaga has won by an average of 19.6 points during that run.
Heytvelt, who leads Gonzaga with 14.4 points per game, has had a couple of outstanding efforts against Pepperdine.
The 6-foot-11 senior had 25 points and nine rebounds in the teams’ first matchup this season, an 83-69 Bulldogs win Jan. 22. He had the most dominating game of his career Feb. 3, 2007, against Pepperdine, setting career highs with 27 points, 22 rebounds and six blocks in an 82-57 victory.
Heytvelt had 18 points against Loyola Marymount.
Pepperdine will likely have a tough time matching up with Heytvelt again. Corbin Moore is the Waves’ tallest regular at 6-10, but he averages just 3.1 points and doesn’t rebound nearly as well as somebody with his height should, posting 4.6 a game.
Moore made both of his shots from the field Thursday night as Pepperdine shot a season-low 23.3 percent in a 74-45 loss to Portland.
The Waves went 15-for-27 (55.5 percent) from the free-throw line. They entered that game shooting a WCC-best 70.7 percent.
Freshman guard Keion Bell continues to be a bright spot for Pepperdine, averaging 17.1 points in his last nine games. In his first matchup with Gonzaga, Bell had 19 points, a career-high 12 rebounds and six assists.
The Bulldogs held the Waves to 36.6 percent shooting last month en route to taking a 35-31 lead in the series.
Gonzaga has won 10 straight at home against Pepperdine since a 65-64 loss Feb. 19, 1998.