12:00 AM ET, March 8, 2005
Leavey Center, Santa Clara, California
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) -- This season started with talk that Gonzaga might no longer be the best team in the West Coast Conference.It ended with the Zags on top for the sixth time in seven years.Adam Morrison scored 30 points and keyed a big second-half run to lead Gonzaga (No. 12 ESPN/USA Today, No. 11 AP) to an 80-67 victory over Saint Mary's on Monday night in a meeting of the conference's top two teams."Obviously being how young we are, over the summer we heard a lot of whispers about us finishing second or fourth in this league, and it kind of put a little chip on our shoulders," said Morrison, the tournament MVP. "We read the Web sites. We heard what people were saying around town."Ronny Turiaf added 18 points and 14 rebounds as the Zags (25-4) earned a seventh straight NCAA Tournament bid with their 12th consecutive victory. Gonzaga beat the second-seeded Gaels in the title game for the second straight season.Daniel Kickert scored 27 points with a career-high seven 3-pointers and Paul Marigney had 20 points and 11 rebounds for Saint Mary's (25-8), which still has a chance to earn the school's first NCAA Tournament bid since 1997."I would have to question the process if we're out," Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said. "We played in a good conference. We lost to a good team. I think we've done all we could do other than win tonight."Morrison scored the Zags' first seven points after halftime, including a three-point play that started a 15-3 run. He threw his arm into the air to celebrate in the final minute and called for Gonzaga's many fans to rise to their feet."Adam's a big-time player," Zags coach Mark Few said. "The bigger the moment, the better he is. He is the reason we've run off as many straight as we have. He's defending and he's making everybody better on both ends."Turiaf, who had four second-half blocks, responded with a big night after a poor performance in Gonzaga's 90-74 semifinal win over San Diego on Sunday.Derek Raivio added 16 points to help Gonzaga snap the Gaels' five-game winning streak.Of all the talented Gonzaga teams during the program's recent run, some say this could potentially be the best one.
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