LAS VEGAS -- For the last five seasons, it is a pretty safe bet that no two teams have played as frequently as Saint Mary's and Gonzaga.
The two teams will meet tomorrow night for the 15th time in five seasons and for the fifth-straight year in the West Coast Conference Championship final at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
The game is scheduled for a 6 p.m. tipoff and will be nationally televised by ESPN with Dave Flemming and Sean Farnham calling the action. Gaels broadcaster Alex Jensen will also provide a live audio stream via Gaels Live on SMCGaels.com and WCCSports.com contains links to live statistics.
"This is where we want to be," said SMC head coach Randy Bennett. "Every year this is what you are trying to get to, get yourself a good seed, play in the conference tournament and try to get to the championship game.
"(Gonzaga) is a familiar foe. We've seen them a lot and it is going to be about doing things a little better than we've done the first two times we played them (this year). Certainly, they test you in about every phase - transition, rebounding, defensively, defending the three. We have to be solid in all areas."
Saint Mary's advanced to the title game by virtue of a dramatic 69-66 overtime victory in last night's semifinal over sixth-seeded San Diego. Matthew Dellavedova connected on a clutch 3-point field goal with just six seconds left in regulation, then the Gaels outpaced the Toreros in the overtime period.
Gonzaga struggled with upstart Loyola Marymount for about 20 minutes in the night's first semifinal, but eventually pulled away for a 66-48 victory to advance to the championship game. The Bulldogs are currently the nation's top-ranked team in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls.
Dellavedova, the school's all-time leading scorer with 1,899 points in his four seasons, was last year's Tournament MVP and is 2-1 against Gonzaga in league championship games.
"Obviously, they are a good team and they do a lot of things well," said Dellavedova, who is also the program's career leader in assists, 3-point shooting and games played. "At the same time, you have to do what you do well."
Neither team is a stranger to success in the annual WCC championships. Gonzaga is making its 16th-straight championship game appearance, while the Gaels have played in the title game in seven of the last 10 years.
The two programs have played relatively even the last few seasons with the Bulldogs owning a slight 5-4 edge in the last nine meetings.
Earlier this year in Spokane, Gonzaga led by as many as 20 points before a massive Saint Mary's comeback pulled the Gaels to within one point with just 14 seconds remaining before free throws gave GU an 83-78 win. In Moraga, Gonzaga earned a 77-60 victory as the Gaels endured one of their worst shooting games of the season.
The winner of tomorrow's game will earn the WCC's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA Selection Show is scheduled for Sunday, March 17 at 3 p.m. live on CBS-TV.