<
>
WEST COAST CONFERENCE MEN'S TOURNAMENT - SEMIFINAL
22-11, 12-6 Conf
50
Final
12T
BYU203050
SMC364581
81
28-3, 16-2 Conf

No. 19 Saint Mary's routs BYU 81-50 to reach WCC title game

LAS VEGAS -- Saint Mary's wanted another shot at its nemesis. The 19th-ranked Gaels accomplished their goal with two confidence-building wins.

Jock Landale had 22 points and 10 rebounds, and No. 19 Saint Mary's never trailed in an 81-50 victory over BYU on Monday night in the West Coast Conference semifinals.

Calvin Hermanson added 14 points and Emmett Naar had 12 points and 11 assists for the Gaels (28-3), who hit 13 3-pointers and earned a third chance to play Gonzaga in the title game Tuesday.

The fourth-ranked Bulldogs, who beat Saint Mary's twice in the regular season, held off Santa Clara 77-68 in the first semifinal.

The Gaels, meanwhile, have posted two tournament wins by a combined 64 points while hitting 24 3-pointers.

"I think you want to go into the Gonzaga game playing well, so I think it's in our favor," coach Randy Bennett said. "We played well, we shot it well. . The Gonzaga game, I think both teams look forward to it. It's a great college basketball game."

T.J. Haws scored 13 points for the cold-shooting Cougars (22-11), who handed Gonzaga its only loss but face long odds for making the NCAA Tournament.

With third-seeded BYU missing 22 of 32 first-half shots, second-seeded Saint Mary's raced to a 36-20 lead. Hermanson then hit a 3-pointer as the Gaels scored the first five points in the second half, and they led by as many as 35 points in their sixth straight win.

BYU's Eric Mika was held to 10 points on 5-of-13 shooting after scoring 25 in Saturday's quarterfinal win over Loyola Marymount. BYU shot 32 percent from the field in bowing out in the WCC semifinals for the second straight year after reaching the final in 2014 and 2015.

"We were kind of a step slow in everything we did," BYU coach Dave Rose said, adding, "I'm disappointed in just how we kind of responded to challenges early in that first half."

Landale hit 8 of 12 shots from the field and all eight free throws while securing his 15th double-double of the season. The Gaels shot 56 percent from the field and went 13 of 25 from 3-point range.

"The guards do an awesome job of hitting their 3s," Landale said. "It spreads out the defense a lot and makes it a lot easier (inside)."

Bennett rested most of his regulars over the final 5 minutes ahead of Tuesday's championship game. The Gaels lost at Gonzaga 79-56 on Jan. 14 and 74-64 at home to the Zags on Feb. 11.

They haven't lost since.

"We're just super excited to be back in the final," Naar said. "They got us last year and hopefully we can get revenge."

BIG PICTURE

BYU: The Cougars eclipsed 20 wins for the 12th straight season, but an RPI of 63 entering the game hurts their NCAA hopes despite the stunning win at Gonzaga on Feb. 25. BYU has losses to Utah Valley (210 RPI) and San Diego (203).

Saint Mary's: The Gaels came to Las Vegas with one goal: get another crack at Gonzaga. The only other team they lost to was Texas-Arlington on Dec. 8.

FINAL PREDICTION

When asked about Tuesday's final, Rose praised Gonzaga's size and strength.

"The Zags can get into tough spots and play their way out of it," Rose said. "But if they shoot the ball like they did tonight, Saint Mary's, I don't know. It will probably be a sellout and everybody in the country will be watching because it's going to be a pretty good game."

UP NEXT

BYU: The Cougars will await their postseason fate amid optimism for a team that didn't start a senior over their final eight games. BYU has played in the postseason 11 straight years.

Saint Mary's: Beating Gonzaga on Tuesday night would give the Gaels their first WCC title since 2012.

---

More college basketball coverage: http://collegebasketball.ap.org/

NCAAM News