LAS VEGAS — The Saint Mary’s men’s basketball team made things interesting half way through the second half, but Gonzaga held off the Gaels 74-56 to claim the West Coast Conference championship. SMC was down by as many as 21, but rallied to pull within five with 10 minutes left. Gonzaga used a late spurt to put the game away.
Selection Sunday is set for March 12 streaming live on NCAA.com and televised nationally. The NCAA First Four takes place on March 14-15, with the first round taking place March 16-19.
The Gaels bid for a third WCC Tournament title in eight years came up just short.
SMC was led by Calvin Hermanson with 14 points and All-Tournament selection Jock Landale with 10 points. Emmett Naar and Evan Fitzner had nine points apiece.
GU was led by WCC Tourney MVP Nigel Williams-Goss with 22 points.
The Gaels opened the game with a three-pointer by Evan Fitzer but Gonzaga rattled off nine straight points for the early edge. GU pushed the lead up to 10 points at 19-9 forcing the Gaels to call a timeout at the 10:34 mark. SMC scored on back-to-back possessions with Rahon cutting the deficit down to 19-13 with 8:41 left.
SMC would keep GU scoreless for over a three minute stretch but could not capitalize as the Bulldogs kept the Gaels off the board for over six minutes and went ahead 31-13 with 2:24 left in the half. Gonzaga would enter halftime with a 39-18 lead. The Bulldogs shot 51.9 percent, compared to just 21.4 percent by the Gaels.
A couple of early three-pointers by Naar and Rahon pulled SMC within 14 points before the first media of the second half. Naar slipped through the defense off the glass to force GU to call timeout with Gonzaga up 44-32 with 14:05 remaining, part of a 14-5 run to start the half.
A Fitzner three-pointer and Hermanson bucket pulled SMC to within 47-36 at the 12:38 mark but Gonzaga quickly answered with a three-pointer by Jonathan Williams. Out of the under 12 media, Landale converted in the paint to make it an eight point game.
Fitzner hit a corner three, part of eight consecutive SMC field goals made, cutting the deficit down to 51-46 with 10:10 remaining. GU followed with an 11-2 run to get the lead back to 62-48 with just 5:22 remaining. The Gaels would continue to shoot at over a 50 percent clip in the second half but could not get enough stops on the defensive end as GU kept SMC at bay.
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