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No. 17 Gonzaga, No. 21 Saint Mary's clash in West Coast Conference Tournament championship

Mar. 12—Halftime

Saint Mary's came up with a couple of blocks on the last two possessions to maintain a 31-27 lead over Gonzaga in the WCC tournament championship at the Orelans Arena in Las Vegas.

The Gaels maintained a slight advantage for most of the half with Graham Ike on the bench in foul trouble. Ryan Nembhard (seven points, six assists) and Anton Watson (eight points) have helped GU keep it close.

Mitchell Saxen has been the decisive factor for the Gaels with 12 points and 10 rebounds. He also has two fouls. Augustus Marciulionis adds seven points and five assists.

First half

0:58 — SMC 31, GU 27: Mahaney and Marciulionis hit a couple of 3-pointers to regain the lead. Zags briefly tied it up.

3:42 — SMC 25, GU 23: Not much separating the two teams in the first half. Ike and Saxen both with two fouls apiece. Zags have the ball on the other side of the U4 media timeout with a chance to tie it up.

Saxen leads SMC with 12 points and eight rebounds, going to be a major problem if he needs to leave the court.

7:58 — SMC 19, GU 17: Zags keep it close with Ike on the bench. Huff is called for a reach at the U8 media timeout.

Nembhard cut the lead with a 3-pointer. He has five points and five assists.

11:56 — SMC 17, GU 10: Nembhard gets GU going with a jumper and assist to Watson at the U12 media timeout.

13:08 — SMC 15, GU 6: Ike heads to the bench and the Gaels take advantage on a 6-0 run on drives to the basket. Zags take a timeout. Saxen already up to 10 points, Marciulionis with three assists.

15:46 — SMC 7, GU 4: Mahaney hits a 3-pointer and Saxen heads to the free throw line after a foul from GU's Ike at the first media timeout.

Tough start for the Zags, who already have four turnovers.

19:03 — SMC 2, GU 0: Uncharacteristic turnover from Nembhard and the Gaels take the lead on a backdoor dunk from Saxen.

Starting 5: No changes to either teams lineup. Gonzaga: Nembhard (12.9 ppg), Hickman (14.2), Ike (16.7), Watson (14.3) and Gregg (8.9). Saint Mary's: Marciulionis (12.4), Mahaney (13.6), Ducas (10.2), Forbes (5) and Saxen (11.5).

Pregame

The West Coast Conference doesn't get better than this.

Gonzaga and Saint Mary's will play for the WCC tournament championship tonight at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. on ESPN.

The second-seeded Bulldogs (25-6, No. 17 AP) have been on a tear since losing to SMC at home on Feb. 3. GU has won nine straight including at Kentucky, San Francisco, Saint Mary's and yesterday's WCC semifinal over USF.

Still, the top-seeded Gaels (25-7, No. 21) are out to prove they're the conference's best team.

SMC's only loss since December was at home to Gonzaga on March 2. They beat Santa Clara in yesterday's semifinal and Gaels senior Alex Ducas still had the Zags on his mind.

"Credit to Gonzaga, they're a good squad but I don't think they won the game," said Gaels senior Alex Ducas. "I think we lost the game last time at home."

Round 3 should determine who the better team really is.

Series history

Gonzaga and Saint Mary's have played for 11 of the WCC tournament titles since 2009, with GU winning eight meetings and the last four. The Gaels are the only team in that time to beat GU in the tournament championship game.

Team stats

Individual leaders

Game preview

Last night's action

Dave Boling: Call him what you will, this season 'little Ben Gregg' has grown into 'Mr. Zag'

In an 89-77 win over San Francisco in the semifinals of the West Coast Conference Tournament on Monday at the Orleans Arena, Ben Gregg became The Man. — Read more

Same as it ever was: Gonzaga thumps USF, rolls into another title game vs. Saint Mary's

LAS VEGAS — What happens in Las Vegas ... seems to happen every March at the West Coast Conference Tournament. — Read more

TV take: Gonzaga finds familiar second-half success over San Francisco in WCC tournament win

A late start due to the game before on ESPN2 running long? Check. The obligatory start on another ESPN channel, this time ESPNU? Check again. Dave Flemming and Sean Farnham waiting in Las Vegas? Trifecta. Yep, it was another West Coast Conference tournament semifinal, complete with the same storyline we've all seen for years. And a couple times earlier this season. — Read more

Recap and highlights: Gonzaga catches fire in second half, beats San Francisco 89-77 in WCC semifinals

What happens in Las Vegas seems to happen every March at the West Coast Conference Tournament. — Read more