Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s had to work harder than anticipated
to reach the West Coast Conference tournament final for the fifth straight
season Monday night in Las Vegas. The top-ranked Bulldogs weren’t able to put
away ninth-seeded Loyola Marymount until midway through the second half of
Saturday’s semifinal. The No. 23 Gaels needed overtime to beat sixth-seeded San
Diego in the other semi.
Gonzaga won both previous meetings this season against Saint Mary's, a five-point victory Jan. 10 at Saint Mary’s and a 17-point win a month later in Spokane, Wash. The Bulldogs feature three players who made the all-WCC first team. Kelly Olynyk, a 7-foot junior center, averages a team-high 17.3 points. He’s backed by 6-8 senior forward Elias Harris (14.8) and 6-2 sophomore guard Kevin Pangos (11.8). Saint Mary’s is led by 6-4 senior point guard Matthew Dellavedova, the school’s all-time career scoring leader who averages 16.2 points and 6.4 assists.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN3.
ABOUT GONZAGA (30-2): Olynyk had a rare off night in the semifinals, scoring eight points on 3-for-10 shooting. He hasn’t been held to single digits in back-to-back games this season or shot under 55 percent from the floor in consecutive games. He scored 31 points when these teams first met and came back with 17 points in the second game. Saint Mary’s is very familiar with Olynyk, but it doesn’t mean the Gaels have anyone who can stop him. Brad Waldow, a 6-9 sophomore forward, will likely draw that assignment for Saint Mary’s.
ABOUT SAINT MARY’S (27-5): Waldow scored a career-high 23 points and matched his career best with 16 rebounds in the semifinal win against San Diego. He showed his toughness during the game when a front tooth was knocked out during the second half and he attempted to hand it off to coach Randy Bennett while continuing to run the floor. He eventually had to be taken out to stop the bleeding. The player who needs to step up for the Gaels is junior guard Stephen Holt, who was held to three points on 1-for-7 shooting against San Diego.
* Bulldogs are 8-0 ATS in their last eight games following an ATS loss.
* Gaels are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 Monday games.
* Bulldogs are 3-0-1 ATS in their last four games vs. a team
with a winning S.U. record.
1. Gonzaga has won 30 games for the first time in school history.
2. The Bulldogs have reached the title game 18 consecutive seasons.
3. With his next start, Dellavedova will break the school record for games started at 134. Omar Samhan set the current mark from 2006-10.