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Karnowski leads No. 7 Gonzaga to 81-72 WCC tournament win

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Przemek Karnowski scored a season-high 24 points and Kyle Wiltjer added 19 to lead No. 7 Gonzaga to an 81-72 victory over San Francisco in the West Coast Conference tournament Saturday night.

The Bulldogs (30-2) will play Pepperdine in the semifinals Monday night. The Waves defeated San Diego 50-47 earlier Saturday.

Gonzaga struggled offensively in the first half and trailed 41-39 six minutes into the second half before going on a 16-0 run. At that point, the Zags led 58-42 and were never threatened.

Tim Derksen and Mark Tollefsen led USF (14-18), the tournament’s eighth seed, with 21 points each. Devin Watson scored 17.

Zags point guard Kevin Pangos, the WCC player of the year, scored 10 points and added five assists before fouling out.

Wiltjer, whose hook in the lane gave Gonzaga a 55-41 lead, later was knocked to the floor with an apparent injury and returned to the locker room. The extent of his injury wasn’t immediately known.

The win puts Gonzaga one step closer to reaching the tournament finals for an 18th consecutive season. The Zags went on the win 12 times previously.

The Bulldogs appeared to be suffering from a regular-season hangover in the first half. They dropped their conference finale to BYU on Feb. 28, ending a 41-game home winning streak, then struggled offensively in the opening half against USF.

The Dons trailed through the first 15 minutes of the game before going on a 12-2 run behind 3-pointers by Derksen and Tollefsen to pull even at 20-20. Another 3 from Derksen put USF in front 29-22, but Gonzaga scored the final five points to trail 29-27.

The Zags shot just 35.5 percent in the first half, making 11 of 31 attempts and 2 of 12 from long distance. USF was only marginally better, converting 12 of 33 shots. In the second half, however, Gonzaga made 18 of 24 shots.

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