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Recap and highlights: No. 1 Gonzaga beats Saint Mary’s, moves into WCC title game

UPDATED: Mon., March 8, 2021

LAS VEGAS — One of five Bulldogs to finish in double figures, Drew Timme scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds and No. 1 Gonzaga moved one step closer to its 18th West Coast Conference Tournament championship, dominating Saint Mary’s 78-55 Monday night at Orleans Arena.

Joel Ayayi finished with 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds for the Zags while Jalen Suggs had 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting while hauling down seven rebounds in his WCC Tournament debut.

Conference player of the year Corey Kispert had 14 points with six rebounds and Andrew Nembhard climbed into the double-digit column with 10 points, making two of GU’s five 3-pointers.

Top-ranked and top-seeded Gonzaga (25-0) will play in its 24th consecutive WCC Tournament title game against either second-seeded BYU (19-5) or third-seeded Pepperdine (12-11). The Cougars and Waves tip off tonight at 9 p.m. in Las Vegas.

Historically GU’s top rival in the WCC, Saint Mary’s (14-9) offered even less resistance than it did in 87-65 and 73-59 losses to the Bulldogs during the regular season.

The Gaels’ Matthias Tass scored the game’s opening basket 14 seconds into the first half, but Nembhard drilled a 3-pointer on the next possession and Gonzaga went on a 11-0 run, making four of its next five shots.

The Bulldogs led 44-28 at halftime and established their biggest lead of the game, 64-34, with 13:07 left in the second half.

Logan Johnson and Tommy Kuhse each finished in double figures for the Gaels, with 15 and 13 points respectively, but the top scorers for Saint Mary’s combined to shoot 10 of 31 from the field. As a team, Saint Mary’s finished just 2 of 20 from 3-point range while Gonzaga was 5 of 15. Overall, the Gaels shot 36% from the field while the Bulldogs shot better than 50% for the 22nd time this season, making 33 of 62.

Mark Few was able to pull his starters for good with less than eight minutes left in the game, taking Timme off the floor at the 7:40 mark and subsequently yanking Kispert and Suggs with 4:04 to go.

First half

15:16 – Gonzaga 11, SMC 2: Great defense has the Zags up 9 early in Las Vegas.

Saint Mary’s scored on its first shot, but has missed its last seven attempts. Gonzaga is doing a good job of staying with ball screens and quickly rotating when it doubles the post.

Joel Ayayi has five points to lead Gonzaga. Andrew Nembhard has three points and Corey Kispert has two points.

Saint Mary’s is led by Matthias Tass’ two points.

11:19 – Gonzaga 21, SMC 13: Corey Kispert has six points, Drew Timme and Joel Ayayi each have five and the No. 1 Zags are off to a hot shooting start.

Gonzaga is shooting 70% from the field and is 2 of 3 from 3-point range.

Saint Mary’s has also found its shooting touch, making its last four shots.

Logan Johnson leads the Gaels with four points.

6:55 – Gonzaga 31, SMC 18: Center Drew Timme has nine points, three rebounds and three assists to lead the Zags to a 13-point lead at the under-8 media timeout.

Joel Ayayi also has nine points for Gonzaga, which is shooting 70.6%.

3:33 – Gonzaga 36, SMC 24: Bulldogs lead by a dozen at the final media timeout of the half behind 63.6% shooting.

Drew Timme leads GU with 11 points on 5-of-5 shooting.

Tommy Kushe has six points to lead Saint Mary’s. The Gaels are shooting 39.3%.

Halftime

Gonzaga 44, SMC 26: Drew Timme has 15 points and the red-hot Bulldogs lead the Gaels by 18 at halftime.

Gonzaga is shooting 64.3% (18 of 28) and has made 3 of 7 3-pointers.

Timme is 7 of 8 from the floor.

Joel Ayayi has scored nine points for GU. He is 4-of-4 shooting with a 3-pointer. 

Tommy Kuhse leads Saint Mary’s with eight points. The Gaels are shooting just 37.5% (12 of 32) and are 2 of 12 from 3-point range.

Both teams have committed eight turnovers.

Gonzaga senior Corey Kispert has eight points, but is 2-of-7 shooting, including 0 of 3 from 3.

Andrew Nembhard has also scored eight points for the Zags. He is 2 of 2 from 3.

Second half

15:34 – Gonzaga 55, SMC 31: The Zags are on a 9-0 run and lead by 24 at the first media timeout of the half.

Drew Timme has scored 15 points to lead Gonzaga, but is 0 of 2 shooting in the half.

Corey Kispert has scored 12 points and Jalen Suggs has added 11 for GU. Suggs has seven points in the half.

Saint Mary’s hasn’t scored in 3:18.

10:58 – Gonzaga 64, SMC 40: Gonzaga leads by 24 despite not scoring in the last 2:09.

Four GU scorers have hit double digits, with Drew Timme leading the way with 18 points. Corey Kispert has 14 points, Jalen Suggs has 13 and Andrew Nembhard has 10.

Tommy Kuhse has 10 points to lead Saint Mary’s. The Gaels are 0 of 3 from 3-point range this half.

7:40 – Gonzaga 67, SMC 45: Joel Ayayi is up to 14 points to make it five Gonzaga scorers in double figures.

2:50 – Gonzaga 77, SMC 51: The Bulldogs have pulled most of their starters as they are less than 3 minutes from the WCC Tournament championship game.

Drew Timme leads GU with 18 points. Joel Ayayi has scored 16 points, Jalens Suggs has 15, Corey Kispert 14 and Andrew Nembhard has 10.

Tommy Kuhse and Logan Johnson each have 13 points to lead Saint Mary’s. The Gaels have missed all seven their 3-point attempts this half.

Starting 5

Pregame

Individual leaders

POINTS PPG FG% FT%
Logan Johnson (SMC) 13.4 47.5 73.8
Corey Kispert (GU) 19.5 55.6 88.9
REBOUNDS RPG DRPG ORPG
Kyle Bowen (SMC) 6.0 4.5 1.5
Drew Timme (GU) 7.1 4.8 2.3
ASSISTS APG TOPG MPG
Tommy Kushe (SMC) 4.9 2.3 35.6
Jalen Suggs (GU) 4.5 2.8 27.6

Team stats

  Saint Mary's Gonzaga
Points 64.5 92.9
Points allowed 61.6 69.3
Field goal pct. 42.4 55.3
Rebounds 34.5 37.8
Assists 10.7 18.7
Blocks 3.1 3.0
Steals 6.2 8.6
Streak Won 1 Won 24

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