Zags battle into final Tuesday night against arch-rival Saint Mary’s

click to enlarge Saint Mary's and Gonzaga face off a third time this season to decide the WCC championship. - ERICK DOXEY

Erick Doxey

Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga face off a third time this season to decide the WCC championship.

The West Coast Conference Tournament has been underway since last Thursday. It’s gone chalk the whole way, and we’re treated to a great rivalry game as a result.

Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s just can’t get away from each other. These two programs are destined, perhaps fated, to run into each other when it’s do or die. Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s, once again, will face off for the WCC Tournament title.

The last time Gonzaga faced a team that wasn’t Saint Mary’s, or BYU, in the WCC Tournament title game,was back in 2008 when Gonzaga lost to San Diego on San Diego’s campus. Since then it’s been all Gonzaga, BYU and Saint Mary’s.

There have been 14 finals since that 2008 experience. All have included the Zags. Four have included BYU and now 10 have included the Gaels. This year, it’s arch-rival versus arch-rival. It’s Zags versus Gaels, in a match-up the Basketball Gods surely won’t complain about.

This year it makes perfect sense. Gonzaga is on track to earn a 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Saint Mary’s, ranked No. 17 in the AP Poll, is a lock to make the Dance, too.

Gonzaga has now appeared in 25 straight West Coast Conference Championships. That’s a streak old enough to rent a car. It’s a streak that predates head coach Mark Few’s tenure, which dates back to the 1999-2000 season.

Speaking of streaks, the Zags reached 25 wins on Monday night. They’ve won 25 games in 15 consecutive seasons. That’s the longest active streak in the country and ties Kansas for the longest such streak in all of college basketball history.

With both teams secure in going to the Big Dance, Tuesday’s game is about seeding more than anything. But don’t let that fool you. It’s also two rivals playing for a trophy, for bragging rights, and for the season series. Gonzaga’s got a win over Saint Mary’s this year, and Saint Mary’s has one over Gonzaga, too. This rubber match might not mean much when it comes to March, but rivalries defy months. It will be spirited. The WCC trophy will be coveted. One team will win it, and they’ll love it.


1 seed Gonzaga (25-3) and 2 seed Saint Mary’s (25-6) are set to face off in the WCC Tournament Final on Tuesday at 6 p.m. on ESPN at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. This is the final game for both teams before the NCAA Tournament tips off next week.

Article Source: Inlander