|Monday, March 10
Toreros get first bid in 16 years, Zags expect at-large bid
SAN DIEGO -- Jason Keep scored 18 points and the San Diego Toreros earned their first NCAA berth since 1987, beating top-seeded Gonzaga 72-63 Monday night to win the West Coast Conference tournament.
It was the first time in the tournament's 17-year history that the host team won the title and the automatic NCAA berth.
Keep had a slam dunk to finish a fast break with 8:27 to play to put the second-seeded Toreros up 55-53, and they led the rest of the game.
Keep, named the tournament MVP, exhorted the crowd at Jenny Craig Pavilion when he fouled out with 14.4 seconds left, and Matt Delzell tossed the ball into the rafters as the buzzer sounded and the students rushed the court.
The Toreros (18-11) reached the NCAAs for the first time in nine seasons under coach Brad Holland, and for just the third time ever. They lost in the first round in both 1984 and 1987.
Gonzaga (23-8), which won the tournament the last four years, is expected to get an at-large NCAA bid. Gonzaga's Ronny Turiaf had 26 points and 12 rebounds to lead all players. He scored 11 points in the first 6:40 of the second half to give the Zags a 50-46 lead.
The Zags were streaky throughout the game, and their last cold spell cost them the game. Kyle Bankhead made a 3-pointer with 10:04 left to tie the game at 53, but the Zags' only field goal after that was by Zach Gourde, on a goaltending call against Keep with 5:24 left.
The Toreros stayed hot though, getting 3-pointers from Delzell and Roy Morris. Morris scored 15 points and Delzell and Nick Lewis had 14 apiece.
Center Cory Violette, Gonzaga's third-leading scorer with an average of 11.5 points, missed the game after spraining an ankle in Sunday night's 73-52 win over Saint Mary's. Gourde picked up his third and fourth fouls less than a minute apart early in the second half.
Gourde fouled out with 3:36 left and San Diego leading 61-57.
San Diego was playing in the title game for just the second time, while Gonzaga was in it for the sixth straight year.
Gonzaga raced to a 15-3 lead less than four minutes into the game. The Zags made their first six shots, including 3-pointers by Stepp and Kyle Bankhead.
San Diego missed its first five shots and didn't get its first field goal until nearly five minutes in, when Keep made a hook from the baseline.