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Gonzaga regains shooting touch in 72-55 win

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LOS ANGELES — Guards Gary Bell Jr. and Kevin Pangos combined for 33 points, including seven 3-pointers, to lead No. 3 Gonzaga to a 72-55 win over Loyola Marymount on Saturday in a West Coast Conference game at Gersten Pavilion.

Bell led Gonzaga (18-1, 7-0) with 17 points and Pangos had 16 points and six assists.

The Bulldogs had struggled from the floor and free throw line Thursday in a two-point victory at Pepperdine. Pangos, a senior, missed half of his foul shots and scored just nine points in that game, and Gonzaga was off target on 19 free throws.

“When Kevin is missing free throws, you know something is wrong,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said of the senior guard, one of the nation’s best free throw shooters. “The moon is not orbiting properly or there is something wrong with the tides.

“I knew he’d get back to what he is and it was nice to see Gary get it going. He seemed to gain confidence each time the ball disappeared in the net.”

The Bulldogs, who came into the game ranked ninth in the nation at 82.6 points per game, looked more like themselves against Pepperdine.

They began the game on a 14-0 run and had a 20-point lead with about five minutes to go. Gonzaga had made 10 of 22 3-pointers, including 5 of 6 in the second half.

The Bulldogs came out with an extended and aggressive man defense that fueled its initial push, forcing Loyola Marymount ball-handlers away from the key and facilitating transition baskets.

“We had a long session yesterday watching film and focusing on defense,” Few said. “After what happened at Pepperdine, that was a main point of emphasis for us. I think they responded and played very well. We had kind of lost our way against Pepperdine. I think we did a better job today.”

LMU didn’t score its first points until guard Evan Payne’s jumper with 15:04 left in the first half. That was followed by consecutive 3-pointers by Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer and guard Byron Wesley, which gave Gonzaga a 20-2 lead.

Wesley finished with 14 points, six rebounds, five assists and four assists. Wiltjer added 12 points and five assists.

Guard Ayodeji Egbeyemi led Loyola with 14 points, and forward Petr Herman and Payne each added 11.

“We only had three turnovers in the second half, so that helped us out a lot,” Loyola Marymount coach Mike Dunlap said. “We had open looks in the second half, but they just didn’t go down.”

NOTES: Gonzaga forward Domantas Sabonis had made his last 10 field goal attempts. The streak hit 11 with a made jumper midway through the first half and ended when he missed a layup later in the half. … Loyola Marymount, which had lost five straight until defeating Portland on Thursday, came into Saturday having lost its last 10 games to Gonzaga, dating back to 2010. … The Bulldogs’ 78-76 victory over Pepperdine on Thursday was coach Mark Few’s 200th West Coast Conference win. He’s the only coach in conference history to reach that mark.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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