Published: Sun, March 17, 2019
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Mary's Beats #1 Gonzaga to Claim WCC Title at Orleans Arena

Mary's Beats #1 Gonzaga to Claim WCC Title at Orleans Arena

The surprising win was bad news for teams such as Belmont, UNC Greensboro, Alabama and Ohio State, who are fighting for the same shrinking pool of at-large bids in the 68-team field.

Exhausted of all the chatter, the Gaels put an emphatic end to it, popping the bubble by taking down a team no one outside their program thought they could beat. "We didn't need a miracle". "We caught them on an off night, but they are so good".

The Gaels (22-11) earned their first WCC championship in nine years and ended Gonzaga's 18-game winning streak in the conference tournament, dating to the 2012 title game.

If Saint Mary's plays defense like it did against Gonzaga, it has a chance to pull off an upset or two in the NCAA Tournament.

JUMPING FOR JORDAN: Ford has connected on 43.3 percent of the 157 3-pointers he's attempted and has made 13 of 23 over his last five games. "You've got to believe against those guys", Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said on ESPN after the game.

Gonzaga steamrolled its way to the regular-season title and through the WCC semifinals by getting out in transition, knocking down open shots.

BIG MEN ON CAMPUS: Gonzaga's Rui Hachimura has averaged 20.4 points and 6.6 rebounds while Brandon Clarke has put up 16.6 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.1 blocks.

Two of those wins came against Saint Mary's: 66-55 in Moraga and 94-46 in Spokane. In fact, Gonzaga scored only 24 points in the first half, setting a new season-low.

Syracuse: The Orange (19-12, 10-8 ACC) will play Pittsburgh on Wednesday in the ACC Tournament and if they can take care of business, would win their 20th game and be in good position to earn a bid. Saint Mary's did it with second-leading scorer Malik Fitts limited to less than a minute because of foul trouble.

Final score: Saint Mary's 60, Gonzaga 47. The Gaels extended the lead to 48-41 with 7½ minutes left and answered every time Gonzaga tried to make a run. They've got a pretty good case, but they're No. 58 in the NET rankings and it's going to be long wait until Sunday.

The headline here is obviously Gonzaga's loss and whether it will impact the Bulldogs' pursuit of a no. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Gonzaga was never able to speed the Gaels up and rev up their high-scoring offense, showing a weakness that could be exploited. It was the first time during the season that the team trailed at the break against a conference opponent.

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