LAS VEGAS – Saint Mary’s had just defeated Pepperdine late Saturday night and coach Randy Bennett, guard Stephen Holt and center Brad Waldow took their seats for a postgame press conference.
Most of the questions weren’t about the fourth-seeded Gaels’ win in the WCC tournament quarterfinals. Most inquiries centered on Saint Mary’s next game, against Gonzaga in the semifinals today at Orleans Arena.
The Bulldogs crushed Saint Mary’s 73-51 in Spokane and 75-47 in Moraga. The rivals have played for the WCC tournament title the last five seasons, with Gonzaga winning three times.
“Gonzaga has a lot of weapons and we have to find a way to stop their inside game,” Bennett said. “We need to figure that out and make some adjustments to make this game a close game and get it done.”
The top-seeded Bulldogs (26-6) survived a close one Saturday, outlasting Santa Clara 77-75 on David Stockton’s layup with 1.4 seconds left.
The Gaels had an easier time, building a 13-point halftime lead. Holt made four 3s – the Gaels connected on 9 of 21 from long distance – and finished with 15 points. Waldow had 21 points and eight rebounds. Beau Levesque added 15 points and seven boards.
“We have to play hard the entire game,” Waldow said. “We got down on ourselves when we got (behind) and it seemed like we almost gave up a little bit. We’ll be ready for the full 40 minutes this time.”
Gonzaga limited Holt to just two field goals and 19 points in the first two meetings. Waldow scored 14 points in the two losses. The two All-WCC first-team players combine to average 31 points per game.
Second-seeded BYU and No. 3 San Francisco meet in tonight’s late game.