Mar. 7 2011
Las Vegas- Robert Sacre scored 12 points, including a dunk and six late free throws and Gonzaga beat Saint Mary's 75-63 Monday night to win the West Coast Conference tournament for the second time in three years.
Gonzaga (24-9) received an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament for its 13th straight appearance.
Steven Gray led Gonzaga with 15 points and Dower had 10. Sacre had four blocks and eight rebounds.
Mickey McConnell led Saint Mary's with 24 points and Matthew Dellavedova added 21.
The game was tied at 53 when Gonzaga reserve Sam Dower started an 8-0 run with a pick-and-roll layup. Freshman guard David Stockton, with Hall of Fame father John Stockton in the stands, hit a 3-pointer to put Gonzaga ahead 58-53.
Saint Mary's made it 61-58 on a 3-pointer by Clint Steindl, but Elias Harris countered with a tip-in, and Sacre made two more free throws and a powerful dunk off a pass from Stockton to put it out of reach.
Rob Jones and Mitchell Young both fouled out with more than five minutes remaining.
"It's an unbelievable feeling, even after all the times we've done it," Gonzaga 12th-year head coach Mark Few said. "I just got done telling the team I haven't been more proud of a group of guys. From where we were to where we are now has been an incredible journey. It's taught me a lot. It taught me about the resilience of kids and the team."
Few has guided the team to the NCAA Tournament in each of his 12 seasons as head coach, and was also a part of Gonzaga's 1995 and 1999 appearances as an assistant coach.
The teams split the regular-season series. Saint Mary's won 73-71 on Jan. 27 and Gonzaga taking the rematch 89-85 in overtime on Feb. 24.
This one was just as close despite the final margin.
The teams met in the WCC title game four times previously. Gonzaga won in 2004, 2005 and 2009, and the Gaels took last year's title.
"It's great feeling knowing that come Sunday you are not going to be sitting there sweating," said Gray, Gonzaga's lone senior, of the upcoming Selection Sunday. "I can't imagine what kind of feeling that would be. It's a great feeling to know we are already in."
The Bulldogs were an at-large pick last season after the WCC title-game loss to the Gaels, but the Bulldogs had a strong resume and there was little doubt the Zags would receive a bid."
Marquise Carter, who blossomed down the stretch and started the last 10 games, was the tourney MVP, joining Gray, Dellavedova, McConnell and the University of San Francisco's Michael Williams on the all-tournament team.
It feels really good," Carter said of the MVP honor. "I just tried to go out and play confident. I want to thank my teammates and coaches for keeping me confident for every game."
Gonzaga won the women's title earlier Monday with a 72-46 victory over Saint Mary's.
Courtesy of GU Sports Information