LAS VEGAS — Drew Timme scored 17 points, Filip Petrusev had a double-double and No. 2 Gonzaga beat rival Saint Mary’s 84-66 to reclaim the West Coast Conference tournament title Tuesday night.
The top-seeded Zags (31-2) bounced back from a middling performance in the semifinals to win their eighth WCC tournament title in 10 years.
Playing in its 23rd straight WCC title game, Gonzaga raced away from the Gaels in a dominating second half — and all but guaranteeing itself one of the four No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament on Selection Sunday.
Petrusev finished with 10 points and 14 rebounds to help the Zags outscore Saint Mary’s 48-22 in the paint.
“They’re really big inside. That’s their strength,” Saint Mary’s coach Randy Bennett said. “It’s a little bit of a problem for us because we don’t have the size. They kept bringing it down in the post and that was the story of the game, why they beat us.”
Saint Mary’s (26-8) upset Gonzaga in last year’s title game to earn the WCC’s automatic NCAA tournament bid and kept pace with the Zags in an entertaining first half this time.
Jordan Ford and Malik Fitts combined to score Saint Mary’s first 34 points to keep the Gaels close, but Gonzaga tightened up defensively in the second half to pull away.
Guard Joel Ayayi scored 17 points.
“It wasn’t always easy, but we adapted at halftime,” Ayayi said. “We came out with an edge and that was the difference in the game.”
Ford finished with 27 points and Fitts had 17 for the Gaels, who should be in decent shape to make the NCAA tournament.
“We needed to get the ball out of Jordan Ford’s hands,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said.
The Zags and Gaels eked their way into their 11th title-game meeting.
Gonzaga struggled putting away San Francisco in an 81-77 game and Saint Mary’s advanced in the second semifinal with a 51-50 victory over No. 14 Brigham Young on Ford’s basket with less than two seconds to play.
The Zags won the two regular-season meetings between the rivals by a combined 40 points on their way to claiming an eighth-straight WCC regular-season title.
Petrusev did most of the damage in the final game of the regular season, scoring 27 points.
It was Timme’s time in Las Vegas. The 6-foot-10 freshman repeatedly got deep post position against the Gaels and took advantage, hitting 7 of 8 shots for 15 points in the first half.
Portland wins WCC women’s title
LAS VEGAS – Haylee Andrews scored 18 points, including her second straight winning basket in the final minute, and Portland captured the West Coast Conference automatic bid to the NCAA tournament for the first time in more than two decades with a 64-63 overtime victory over San Diego.
Andrews, whose floater in the lane with 3.6 seconds left gave the fourth-seeded Pilots a 70-69 semifinal upset over top-seeded Gonzaga on Monday, didn’t need quite the same dramatics against the second-seeded Toreros.
Andrews’ layup came with 58.3 seconds left.
With 11 seconds left, San Diego got the ball upcourt and kept it in a tie-up with 3.2 seconds to play. Erica Martinsen got a good look at a three-pointer from the right wing that bounced off the rim as time ran out.
• In other finals with an NCAA men’s tournament automatic bid on the line, Hofstra beat Northeastern 70-61 in the Colonial Athletic Association; North Kentucky defeated Illinois-Chicago 71-62 in the Horizon; Robert Morris beat St. Francis 77-67 in the Northeast; and North Dakota State overwhelmed North Dakota 89-53 in the Summit.