Zags-Gaels On Familiar Ground In WCC Title Game Monday

            LAS VEGAS - Gonzaga and Saint Mary's are no strangers to the West Coast Conference Basketball Championship title game, and for the fifth straight year that's the matchup Monday at 6 p.m. at The Orleans Arena.

            No. 1 seed and top-ranked Gonzaga advanced to a 16th straight championship game appearance and their 19th overall since 1992 with a 66-48 victory over a stubborn Loyola Marymount University Saturday. The Lions were the No. 9 seed and had knocked off No. 8 University of Portland, No. 5 University of San Francisco and No. 4 Santa Clara University to get another shot at Gonzaga as LMU was playing its fourth game in as many nights.

            Saint Mary's down No. 6 seed University of San Diego Saturday 69-66 in overtime, the Gaels from coming from a 20-6 deficit early in the game and a 10-point deficit late in the game to force overtime and pull out the victory.

            The Bulldogs (30-2) became the first team to go 16-0 in the WCC regular-season in the two years of the 16-game format. The Zags earned their fourth undefeated WCC campaign, going unscathed in 2004, 2006 and 2009 when the conference played a 14-game schedule prior to BYU joining the conference last season.

            Gonzaga, which won the regular-season title for the 12th time in the last 13 years, will also be trying to claim its 12th WCC Tournament crown since 1995 and reclaim the title Saint Mary's College took from the Bulldogs last season with a 78-74 overtime win. In the four previous meetings Gonzaga and SMC have alternated victories beginning with the Zags in 2009. The last time Gonzaga didn't play for the title was 1997 when No. 2 Saint Mary's downed No. 3 USF 66-59 at Loyola Marymount University. This is the fifth straight season the tournament has been held at The Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.

            Monday's winner earns the WCC's automatic berth into the NCAA tournament.



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