Gonzaga 77, Saint Mary's 60

Jake Curtis, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

MORAGA, Calif. -- No. 5 Gonzaga took a major step toward winning the West Coast Conference regular-season title on Thursday by beating St. Mary's 77-60 at sold-out McKeon Pavilion.
The Bulldogs built a 15-point lead in the second half, then had to beat back a St. Mary's rally to end the Gaels' nine-game winning streak and hand St. Mary's its first home loss of the season.
Gary Bell Jr. had 20 points for Gonzaga (24-2, 11-0), while Kevin Pangos added 18 and Kelly Olynyk had 17.
Matthew Dellavedova scored 19 of his game-high 22 points in the first half for the Gaels (21-5, 10-2). Stephen Holt had 17 points.
The win gave Gonzaga a two-game lead over second-place St. Mary's in the WCC with five conference games remaining, so the Bulldogs likely will win the regular-season WCC title for the 12th time in 13 years.
Gonzaga quickly overcame a one-point halftime deficit by scoring the first seven points of the second half, a run initiated by Bell's three-pointer 21 seconds into the half.
The Bulldogs' lead grew to 15 points when Olynyk made a three-point shot at the 14:39 mark to complete a 20-4 run.
St. Mary's reduced the deficit to seven points when Holt made a 14-footer with 8:27 to go, and Dellavedova made it a four-point game with his only points of the second half -- a three-pointer with 6:47 left.
But Gonzaga's little-used Drew Barham hit a three-pointer to halt the St. Mary's momentum, and the Bulldogs built the lead back up to 12 with three minutes left.
The Gaels attempted a season-high 35 three-point shots, making 12, but they made just two free throws compared with 20 foul shots by the Bulldogs.
St. Mary's led 33-32 at halftime, thanks to the work of Dellavedova, who hit 5 of 7 three-point shots in the first 20 minutes, when he scored 19 points.
Olynyk had 12 points in the first half, and his three-point shot with 5:56 left gave the Bulldogs a nine-point lead.
Dellavedova responded by scoring 11 points during the next four minutes, the last six on a pair of three-pointers. The second of the two long-range shots was launched from the left corner under severe defensive pressure and tied the game 30-30 with 44 seconds left.
Jordan Giusti then hit a three-pointer from the right corner with four seconds left to give the Gaels their first lead, 33-30.
Mitchell Young spoiled the momentum by fouling Pangos in the backcourt with 1.5 seconds to go, and Pangos' two free throws reduced the St. Mary's lead to 33-32 game at intermission.
Sixteen of St. Mary's 25 field-goal attempts in the first half were three-pointers.
NOTES: Gonzaga and St. Mary's are the only teams to win WCC regular-season titles since Pepperdine did it in 2000. ... Only four of the 10 starters in Thursday's game were American-born players -- two for each team. ... Gonzaga had a 4-4 record against St. Mary's in their previous eight meetings before Thursday. ... Gonzaga beat St. Mary's 83-78 earlier this season at Gonzaga. ... Gonzaga had won or shared 11 straight WCC regular-season titles before that streak was ended by St. Mary's last year. ... Gaels guard Dellavedova started his 123rd game last Saturday against San Diego, giving him the school record for the most career starts. ... Olynyk has scored in double figures in 21 consecutive games and has scored at least 13 points in 19 straight games.

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