Gonzaga rolls past St. Mary’s

The Gonzaga Bulldogs continued their unbeaten roll through the college basketball season Monday, winning their West Coast Conference tournament semifinal over St. Mary's.



March 9, 2021 - 9:48 AM

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Gonzaga was at its free-flowing best on offense and shut down Saint Mary’s on the defensive end.

Another dominating performance, another trip to the West Coast Conference Tournament title game.

Win one more and the Zags will enter the NCAA Tournament undefeated.

Drew Timme scored 18 points, Joel Ayayi added 16 and top-ranked Gonzaga racked up another lopsided win, blowing past Saint Mary’s 78-55 in the WCC semifinals on Monday night.

“These guys have shown all year how competitive they are and as we moved toward the NCAA Tournament — it was taken away from them last year — I think we’ll get even an increased effort moving forward,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said.

The Bulldogs (25-0) dominated from a big opening run and led by 18 at halftime to cruise into their nation-best 24th conference tournament title game. Gonzaga shot 53% as it tied the school record with its 29th straight win, dating to last season, and has won 22 straight games by double digits.

Jalen Suggs scored 15 points for the Zags, who will play BYU on Tuesday night for a chance to win their ninth WCC title in 11 years.

All but assured of a No. 1 seed, Gonzaga has a chance to become the first team to enter the NCAA Tournament undefeated since Kentucky in 2014-15.

“This thing about this team and this system is it doesn’t matter who scores,” Timme said. “Anybody can score on any given night. I don’t care, the guys don’t care. We just care about winning.”

The Gaels (14-9) were little more than a speed bump against Gonzaga’s ultra-efficient offense and struggled to get their own shots to fall, shooting 2 for 20 from 3-point range.

Logan Johnson led Saint Mary’s with 15 points.

“We’re going to have to have an ‘A’ game to play them close and we didn’t,” Saint Mary’s coach Randy Bennett said. “We shot the ball bad.”

Gonzaga won the two regular-season meetings by double digits.

The Zags had to overcome a slow start to win 73-59 in Moraga, California, but won 87-65 in Spokane, Washington, on Feb. 17 to secure their 10th regular-season WCC title in 11 years.

Gonzaga got off to a quick start in the third go-round, going up nine in the opening 4 1/2 minutes while putting on an offensive display in a dominating first half.