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Saint Mary's Gaels guard Tommy Kuhse (12). (Photo by Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire)
March 8th, 2022
The top-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs and their longtime rival, the No. 17 Saint Mary's Gaels, will meet in the West Coast Conference Tournament final, set for tipoff Tuesday, at 9:00 p.m. ET, at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
In their first game since a 67-57 upset win over Gonzaga to close out the regular season, the Gaels faced a scrappy Santa Clara squad that beat Saint Mary's in early February.
The Broncos entered Monday's matchup ranked sixth nationally in field-goal percentage and seventh in 3-point shooting, but the Gaels came out sharper, hitting nearly 50% of their shots from the field.
17:12 2nd | Gaels 49, Santa Clara 34Tommy Kuhse. That's the tweet.#GaelsRise pic.twitter.com/RtX30e8inK— Saint Mary's Hoops (@saintmaryshoops) March 8, 2022
17:12 2nd | Gaels 49, Santa Clara 34Tommy Kuhse. That's the tweet.#GaelsRise pic.twitter.com/RtX30e8inK
Senior Saint Mary's guard Tommy Kuhse led all scorers with 27 points and knocked down 11 of his 18 shots, including all three of his 3-point attempts. His huge outing helped the Gaels build a 10-point lead in the opening eight minutes, and a 15-point lead early in the second half, but the Broncos came storming back and pulled within one point with under a minute to play.
Following a block on Kuhse with 17 seconds left, Saint Mary's guard Logan Johnson stepped up to stuff Broncos guard Jalen Williams on the other end. Johnson then sank both free throws to ice the game, with a final score of 75-72.
Now the Gaels are headed to the West Coast Conference Tournament championship game for the fourth time in six years and will confront a familiar foe, who has won seven of the last eight meetings.
In the first meeting of the season between Gonzaga and Saint Mary's, the Bulldogs had no problem putting away the Gaels, as leading scorer Drew Timme poured in 25 points and grabbed eight boards, while the team shot 54.5% from the field, including 50% from deep.
The second meeting was a far different story. Timme hit just two of 10 shots and finished with six points, as Gonzaga fell 67-57 on the road against one of the nation's best defenses (59.4 opponent points per game). The Bulldogs trailed by 16 points with 13 minutes remaining and shot just 36.7%, with only four team assists.
LOGAN JOHNSON!Saint Mary's up double-digits on Gonzaga.pic.twitter.com/6VLrXb0TYA— Heat Check CBB (@HeatCheckCBB) February 27, 2022
LOGAN JOHNSON!Saint Mary's up double-digits on Gonzaga.pic.twitter.com/6VLrXb0TYA
Gonzaga bounced back against San Francisco in an 81-71 win in the WCC Tournament semifinal, where the team dished out 20 dimes and shot 58.2% from the field.
Mark Few's squad will need to focus on ball movement and look for fast-break opportunities to avenge its loss to Saint Mary's on Tuesday night.
The Bulldogs and Gaels have met in the conference tournament championship game four times since 2016, with Gonzaga winning all but one of those matchups.
Look for Gonzaga to do enough to get past its rival in a low-scoring battle to secure a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Score prediction: Gonzaga 72, Saint Mary's 62
Our predictive engine is calling for Gonzaga to win outright and the score to go Under the projected total.
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