Nigel Williams-Goss had 25 points and eight rebounds, and Gonzaga secured a spot in the West Coast Conference title game for the 20th straight season with a 77-68 victory over Santa Clara. The Zags play Saint Mary’s in Tuesday’s final.
LAS VEGAS – The last time the Gonzaga men’s basketball team failed to make the West Coast Conference tournament-title game, Nigel Williams-Goss was 2 years old.
The WCC Player of the Year helped the fourth-ranked Zags continue what coach Mark Few calls “an amazing run.”
Williams-Goss had 25 points and eight rebounds, and Gonzaga secured a spot in the WCC final for the 20th straight season with a 77-68 victory over Santa Clara on Monday night.
“It’s March and the teams we’re playing are playing with a sense of desperation, that their season is going to end,” Few said. “This group and the ones before them have done an incredible job.”
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Center Przemek Karnowski added 19 points and seven boards for the Zags (31-1), who dominated inside in winning their second straight since falling at home to Brigham Young.
Top-seeded Gonzaga will seek its fifth straight WCC tournament title at 6 p.m. Tuesday against No. 19 Saint Mary’s (28-3), an 81-50 winner over BYU in the other semifinal.
The last time the Zags failed to reach the WCC final was 1997.
“I take it personally because there are a ton of people in Spokane who come down for this,” Few said. “They literally circle the dates on the calendar in July or whenever they announce it. They spend a good portion of their hard-earned money to come down here for a whole week.
“Our guys have done an amazing job making their trips worthwhile.”
Jared Brownridge scored 32 points for fourth-seeded Santa Clara (17-16), which has dropped 15 in a row to Gonzaga.
“What Gonzaga has done is truly remarkable. They deserve a lot of credit,” Santa Clara coach Herb Sendek said. “It’s not always easy being Goliath.”
The Broncos, who lost to Gonzaga by 31 and 35 points during the regular season, played their second straight game without second-leading scorer K.J. Feagin, who was sidelined by a concussion. Then two of their starters, Emmanuel Ndumanya and Nate Kratch, each had four fouls before the second half was five minutes old.
But the Broncos stayed in the game behind the dynamic Brownridge, who made 12 of 25 shots.
With Santa Clara down 68-63, Williams-Goss made a three-pointer with 1:45 left.
“We called a double ball screen and they kind of got confused on the coverage and I was wide open,” Williams-Goss said. “I have all the confidence in the world I can make that shot.”
• NBC Sports named Few the national coach of the year and put Williams-Goss on its All-America second team.
Goss also made the second teams selected by USA Today and Sporting News. The junior transfer from Washington is among five finalists for the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award.