LAS VEGAS – Make it eight out of the last 11 years.
Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s will resume what’s become essentially an annual March rite when they clash Tuesday night for the WCC Tournament championship at the Orleans Arena.
Gonzaga has won the last three meetings and five of previous seven title-game matchups against the Gaels. The Zags haven’t lost in the WCC Tournament since falling to Saint Mary’s in the 2012 championship game, a span of 18 games.
Second-seeded Saint Mary’s (21-11) outlasted No. 7 San Diego 69-62 on Monday night behind Jordan Ford’s 21 points and 7-of-8 free-throw shooting in the final 38 seconds. Forward Malik Fitts added 19 points and 12 rebounds.
The top-seeded Zags dominated both regular-season matchups against SMC. Gonzaga bolted to a 53-20 halftime lead and won 94-46 in Spokane, the most lopsided loss in Gaels’ coach Randy Bennett’s 18 seasons.
The rematch 10 days ago in Moraga, California, was tight in the first half, but the Zags pulled away in the second half, leading by as many as 20 before settling for a 69-55 victory to cap their fifth unbeaten conference season.
Gonzaga’s forwards dominated inside in both games. Brandon Clarke made 16 of 22 shots and scored 39 points. Rui Hachimura scored 35 points on 15-of-21 shooting.
The duo also kept Fitts in check. Fitts, who averages 15.4 points, was limited to 13 points on 6-of-18 shooting. Ford, an All-WCC guard, averaged 13.5 points, 8 below his season average.
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