MORAGA, Calif. -- The Gonzaga Bulldogs beamed as they filed out of the locker room, and coming out the door with them was old friend Ronny Turiaf.
There's a legacy with this program after 11 straight NCAA tournament appearances, and with that comes not only celebrity guest appearances for big games, but also one large target on your back.
Saint Mary's took its best shot at home on national television on Thursday night and still fell short, with the Zags winning 89-82 to extend their conference winning streak to 18, including 25 of their last 26.
Gonzaga drew the short stick this year, starting out WCC play facing their two top challengers, Portland and Saint Mary's, on the road.
No matter. The Bulldogs survived against Portland when a shot at the buzzer rimmed out. They never trailed against Saint Mary's. Long live the king.
Elias Harris scored a career-high 31 points and had 13 rebounds, with coach Mark Few calling the freshman sensation's performance that included numerous highlight-reel dunks "unbelievable."
Their efforts helped the Bulldogs survive a 25-point second half from Saint Mary's center Omar Samhan, who finished with 31.
"We didn't guard him good in the second half," Few said. "All we did was out-score 'em."
But a win is a win is a win, and Gonzaga knows that.
The Bulldogs could have easily claimed they were rebuilding had things gone less than stellar thus far, but sure enough, they're 13-3, ranked again, and will be dancing again for the 12th straight year.