Bulldogs Lose in WCC Final 78-74
Maybe next time he will let his followers know where Elias Harris is headed. After Pangos’ 30-point semifinal performance, Harris reminded the West Coast Conference faithful why he has been one of the best players in the conference for three years.
The 6’7″ junior from Speyer, Germany had 22 points and 13 rebounds in the loss.
Despite the fact that the Bulldogs were all but ensured an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament, Gonzaga came into the final looking for blood against the Gaels.
The West Coast Conference final was a rubber match between the conference’s top two seeds. Gonzaga (25-6) lost to the Gaels (27-5) 83-62 in Moraga, Calif. in early January and returned the favor in Spokane with a 73-59 win one month later.
Saint Mary’s was responsible for derailing Gonzaga’s run of 11-consecutive WCC regular-season championships on the last day of the regular season.
Robert Sacre lit a fire under his team as he turned in a 17-point peformance after a pedestrian seven-point and five-rebound one in the semis. He fought his heart out on the offensive glass, keeping Gonzaga within one possession after Guy Landry Edi missed a three-pointer with 2:54 to go in the game.
Sacre also blocked a lay-up attempt by WCC Player of the Year Matthew Dellavedova with 1:18 left, which could have pushed a Gaels lead to six points. His two free throws in overtime gave the Bulldogs their first lead since early in the first half.
His game-tying three pointer with 4.8 seconds left was the play of the game for the Bulldogs. With his willingness to hit the glass and guard all three frontcourt positions, the all-WCC junior Elias Harris proved why the NBA scouts have been watching him from afar for the past three years.
Despite having misleading numbers (zero points, four assists), the sophomore guard from Spokane, Washington affected the game by his smart decisions in directing the Gonzaga offense in the second half as Pangos strugled from the perimiter (3-18 from the field).
Early in the second half, Stocktonfound Sacre with a wrap-around pass that led to a two-handed dunk, which halted a 6-0 run that had given Saint Mary’s some momentum and allowed the Bulldogs to be in the game until the very end.
Defense on Dellavedova
The Bulldogs allowed Dellavedova to show why he was named the WCC Player of the Year. The guard from Maryborough, Victoria, Australia scored 22 points on 8-21 shooting on Monday night.
He and All-WCC senior forward Rob Jones (18 points and 9 rebounds), kept Saint Mary’s in the game.
Gonzaga’s Crunch-Time Offense
Gonzaga scored off of broken plays down the stretch in the last five minutes of the second half and overtime, not with designed plays. The baskets were a result of hustle plays fueled by the willingness of Sacre and Harris to hit the glass.
Both guys proved why they were all-conference selections this season.
The Gaels also recieved 13 points and 8 rebounds from freshman forward Brad Waldow. The teams have met in four consecutive WCC finals, with both teams winning two apiece (Saint Mary’s won in 2010).
Gonzaga will learn their fate when the tournament bracket is released March 11th.