Saint Mary's-CA (22-10) vs. Gonzaga (26-6)

03/10/2014 7:42 AM

03/10/2014 7:48 AM

GAME NOTES: The West Coast Conference Tournament advances to the semifinals on Monday night at Orleans Arena, as the top-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs take on the fourth-seeded Saint Mary's Gaels.

The teams have accounted for each of the past five tournament titles. The winner will move on to Tuesday's championship game, where either BYU or San Francisco awaits.

Saint Mary's opened up tournament action in Saturday's quarterfinal round with an 80-69 triumph over Pepperdine for its third win in the past four games. The Gaels are 22-10 overall this season, their seventh consecutive 20-win campaign.

Gonzaga finished off the WCC regular season with two straight wins to secure the No. 1 seed and edged out Santa Clara in thrilling fashion in the quarterfinals to advance, 77-75. The Bulldogs are 26-6 on the season and have won this event 12 times since 1995.

The squads met in the regular-season finale in Spokane, with Gonzaga dismantling Saint Mary's, 75-47, its second blowout victory of the Gaels this season. The Bulldogs lead the all-time series, 60-27

The Gaels ran out to a 13-point lead at the half versus Pepperdine over the weekend and never had their advantage threatened down the stretch, as they shot 50 percent from the field, including 9-of-21 from 3-point range, won the rebounding battle (39-30) and committed just nine turnovers. Brad Waldow paced the effort with 21 points and eight rebounds, Beau Levesque and Stephen Holt netted 15 points apiece and Kerry Carter added 10 points off the bench.

Saint Mary's boasts and impressive offensive attack this season, netting 72.6 ppg on 45.5 percent field-goal shooting, and its effort on the defensive end of the court (65.7 ppg) has been stellar as well. Waldow shoots a lofty 58 percent from the field for 15.9 ppg while adding 7.8 rpg and 1.3 bpg for good measure. Holt is equally effective at filling up the basket (15.0 ppg) as he is at distributing the ball (4.1 ppg), while Levesque, James Walker III and Kerry Carter all pour in between 9.4 and 9.7 ppg.

The Bulldogs trailed for the majority of the second half in their quarterfinal-round matchup with Santa Clara, and after claiming a five-point lead with a minute and a half left, they allowed the Broncos to come back and tie the game with nine seconds remaining, but they claimed the dramatic victory when David Stockton connected on the game-winning layup with 1.4 seconds to play. The team shot 53.3 percent from the field and 27-of-33 at the foul line, with Sam Dower leading the way with 23 points on a perfect 15-of-15 at the stripe. Przemek Karnowski tallied a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds and Gary Bell Jr. chipped in 13 points.

Gonzaga's offense has been one of the nation's elite scoring units this season, as it puts up 77.2 ppg while ranking fourth in the country in field goal percentage (.498) and in the top-20 in 3-point percentage (.393). Defensively it has been sound to, yielding only 65.4 ppg. Dower is the spark plug with 14.9 ppg (on 60.4 percent field-goal shooting) and 6.9 rpg. Kevin Pangos (14.4 ppg, 3.8 apg) and Bell (11.0 ppg) are impressive playmakers in the backcourt and Karnowski registers 10.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg and 1.8 bpg.

Gonzaga has shown plenty of flaws in recent weeks and nearly slipped up in the quarterfinals, but it has dominated Saint Mary's this season, and its confidence heading into this matchup will help it advance to the title bout.

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