Gonzaga advances to final of West Coast Conference tourney

David Stockton had 21 points, Sam Dower Jr. had 12 points and nine rebounds, and Gonzaga advanced to the West Coast Conference championship game for the 17th straight year with a 70-54 win over St. Mary's on Monday night in Las Vegas.

Gonzaga (27-6) crushed St. Mary's in two meetings during the regular season behind its defense and did it again in the WCC semifinals, holding the Gaels (22-11) to 37% shooting.

Gary Bell Jr. scored 14 points and Dower made all eight of his free throws after setting a WCC record by going 15 for 15 in the quarterfinals. Stockton also had six rebounds and four assists for Gonzaga, which will play for its fourth WCC tournament title in five years.

Brad Waldow had 14 points and Stephen Holt 13 for St. Mary's.

Gonzaga and St. Mary's have been familiar foes in the WCC tournament, meeting for the sixth straight season.

This one was a little different; they were playing in the semifinals instead of the championship game for the first time during that stretch.

Gonzaga entered the tournament with a somewhat shaky NCAA tournament resume after late-season losses to Brigham Young and San Diego. The Bulldogs won the WCC regular-season title for the 15th time in 17 seasons and ran over St. Mary's in the finale, 75-47, for the most lopsided game in the series since 2001.

But Gonzaga was far from stellar in its WCC tournament opener, trailing sub-.500 Santa Clara most of the way before pulling out a 77-75 victory on Stockton's layup with two seconds left.

St. Mary's had it a little easier in its opener, rolling over Pepperdine, 80-69, behind Waldow's 21 points. But Gonzaga has been a tough matchup for the Gaels, particularly on the offensive end.

In Tuesday night's final, Gonzaga will play Brigham Young, which defeated San Francisco, 79-77, in overtime in the late semifinal Monday.

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