SEATTLE - Kyle Wiltjer and Kevin Pangos met at halfcourt for a hug and a high five. Gone are the questions about Gonzaga's five-year run of failing to advance from the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament.
The Bulldogs are back in the Sweet 16.
Wiltjer scored 13 of his 24 points during Gonzaga's flawless first half, Domantas Sabonis added 18 points and the second-seeded Bulldogs advanced to the round of 16 for the first time since 2009 with a 87-68 win over No. 7 seed Iowa in a South Region matchup on Sunday.See alsoSouth Regional bracketSee alsoMarch Madness bonus pay for coaches
After five straight departures on the first weekend, the Bulldogs (34-2) are back in the regional semifinals, thanks to an efficient offensive performance in the first 20 minutes that Iowa could never overcome.
Wiltjer made his first six shots before finally missing a 3-point attempt midway through the second half. Sabonis added eight in the first half, including a thundering left-handed dunk that was followed by a scream that had KeyArena roaring just like Gonzaga's home gym.
Jared Uthoff led Iowa (22-12) with 20 and Aaron White added 19.
Gonzaga will make just its third appearance on the second weekend of the tournament since 2001. After looking less than impressive in an opening victory over 15th-seeded North Dakota State, the Bulldogs dominated Iowa from the start.
Wiltjer was nearly perfect. He made 10 of 12 shots and 4 of 6 3-pointers. His 24 points came in just 25 minutes as he was slowed by early foul trouble. Pangos added 16 points and four 3-pointers, while Gary Bell Jr. scored 10.
The Bulldogs were almost flawless offensively for the first 20 minutes. They passed with precision, scored quickly with opportunities developed and were deadly from behind the 3-pointer line. Wiltjer hit a trio of 3-pointers, including a 24-foot swish that gave Gonzaga a 34-19 lead and capped a 16-4 run. But Pangos and Bell — Gonzaga'sdefensive stopper — both added a pair of 3s to complement what was working on the interior.
Przemek Karnowski scored nine points and had four assists, all in the first half, and Sabonis' 18 points off the bench were his most since Jan. 15 at Pepperdine.
Meanwhile, Iowa's stars struggled early. Uthoff and White both had six points in the first half but had to work.Gonzaga gave up size for athleticism, going with Byron Wesley guarding White and Bell marking Uthoff.
Iowa started the second half with eight of the first 10 points and Uthoff knocking down three jumpers to get within 11. The Hawkeyes had a chance to cut the deficit under 10, but a turnover by Mike Gesell led to Pangos' third 3-pointer and the Bulldogs lead was back to 14.
Iowa trimmed the lead to 11 on multiple occasions but could never get the deficit to single digits. Gonzaga finally pulled away for good with a seven-point flurry, capped by Pangos' corner 3-pointer with 6:35 left for a 69-49 lead.
Iowa was trying to reach the round of 16 for the first time since 1999.
Iowa: The combination of Olaseni and Adam Woodbury, Iowa's two big bodies in the middle, couldn't matchGonzaga's interior game. Olaseni and Woodbury combined for 6 points and 5 rebounds and both fouled out.
Gonzaga: The Bulldogs hit 12 of 16 shots to start the game and shot 62 percent in the first half. Gonzaga was the best shooting team in the country at 52 percent. ... Gonzaga outscored Iowa 40-32 in the paint.
Iowa: Season over.
Gonzaga: The Bulldogs will face UCLA in the Sweet 16 on Friday in Houston.