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WCC Title on Line as Saint Mary's Faces Gonzaga in Final
Arguably the best mid-major rivalry in the country is renewed on Monday night when No. 25 Gonzaga faces No. 18 Saint Mary’s in the championship game of the West Coast Conference in Las Vegas. The Zags opened as 2.5-point favorites on Bovada’s NCAA basketball odds and there will be live play-by-play betting available.
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Both clubs should make the NCAA Tournament regardless of tonight’s result. Gonzaga advanced to its 15the consecutive tournament final with a 77-58 win over a very good BYU team on Saturday. Freshman Kevin Pangos scored 30 points on 10-of-17 shooting and as Gonzaga advanced to its 15th consecutive West Coast Conference title game.
The Gaels, the WCC regular-season champions, scraped by San Francisco 83-78. Saint Mary's trailed the entire first half and didn't take its first lead until 12:12 left to play. The Gaels once again played without starting shooting guard Stephen Holt who has been out three weeks with a knee injury. He isn’t expected to play tonight but is officially called a game-time decision. Holt, the team’s best perimeter defender, continues to rehab in hopes of playing in the postseason.
It’s the fourth year in a row that SMC is in the WCC Tournament Final – all have been against Gonzaga. Saint Mary's has played in six WCC title games in coach Randy Bennett's 11 seasons and won the 2010 event with a 19-point victory over the Bulldogs. Gonzaga and SMC have played 11 times in the last four seasons. Saint Mary's and Gonzaga have split their last six matchups and, this season each team won a decisive victory on its home floor. Saint Mary's (26-5) won 83-62 at home on Jan. 12, and Gonzaga (25-5) returned the favor with a 73-59 win in Spokane on Feb. 9.
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