Saturday, November 18, 2017

Gonzaga cruises to a probable top seed


LAS VEGAS — Kelly Olynyk had 21 points and 12 rebounds, and top-ranked Gonzaga bolstered its case for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament by routing Saint Mary's 65-51 in the West Coast Conference final Monday night.

Already headed to the NCAA Tournament for the 15th straight season, Gonzaga (31-2) sure had the look of a No. 1 seed, playing a superb game at both ends.

The deep Zags shot 52 percent, dominated inside and teamed up to hound Gaels leading scorer Matthew Dellavedova. Elias Harris added 19 points for Gonzaga, which had a 42-18 advantage in the paint.

Saint Mary's labored against Gonzaga's attacking defense, particularly after point guard Jorden Page injured his right knee midway through the first half.

Dellavedova struggled for the second straight game, scoring two on 1-of-8 shooting, and the Gaels made 7 of 27 3-pointers.

Stephen Holt had 19 points for Saint Mary's, which should have a solid enough resume to earn an at-large NCAA bid.

Gonzaga has been the marker for mid-major success, reaching the NCAA Tournament 14 straight seasons and the region finals four times, including the past two seasons.

This season, the Zags broke through a big barrier on their way to 30 wins for the first time: No. 1.

Behind Olynyk, the long-haired Canadian with the way-above-the-rim game, Gonzaga lost just twice — to ranked teams — and became the first team to go 16-0 in the WCC.

CAA: A.J. Davis scored 26 and third-seeded James Madison (20-14) put together an early 23-1 run before holding off a furious rally to beat Northeastern 70-57 in the championship game in Richmond, Va.

MAAC: Tre Bowman scored 20 and fourth-seeded Iona earned a second straight NCAA Tournament berth with a 60-57 win over Manhattan in Springfield, Mass.

SOUTHERN: De'Mon Brooks had 24 points and eight rebounds, and top-seeded Davidson (26-7) defended its conference championship with a wire-to-wire 74-55 victory over the College of Charleston in Asheville, N.C.

SUN BELT: George Fant had 17 points and 13 rebounds and fifth-seeded Western Kentucky (20-15) earned its second straight NCAA Tournament berth with a 65-63 win over Florida International in the championship game in Hot Springs, Ark.

COMMISSIONER IRATE: Missouri Valley Conference commissioner Doug Elgin said he would rather have the tournament title game televised on the Food Network if CBS can't guarantee it will televise the entire game nationally. Elgin said central and northern Illinois and all of Indiana didn't see the end of Creighton's 68-65 win over Wichita State on Sunday when CBS switched to the start of the Indiana-Michigan game. "They'll never be able to make this up to us," Elgin said.

KENTUCKY: Freshman forward Nerlens Noel will have surgery on his injured left knee today. Famed orthopedic surgeon James Andrews will perform the operation to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Rehabilitation is expected to take six to eight months.

USC: Starting center Dewayne Dedmon and backup big man James Blasczyk were suspended indefinitely after allegations the pair were involved in a melee in Spokane, Wash., Sunday morning.


BIG EAST: Kayla McBride scored 17 and Skylar Diggins 14 to help No. 2 Notre Dame (30-1) beat 16th-ranked Louisville 83-59 in the semifinals in Hartford, Conn. The Irish advanced to the championship game for the third straight year and their seventh overall since joining the conference in 1995. … Breanna Stewart and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored 14 each for No. 3 Connecticut (29-3), which beat 22nd-ranked Syracuse 64-51.

BIG 12: Brittney Griner scored 31 and top-ranked Baylor (32-1), the defending national champion, won its third consecutive tournament championship, rolling past No. 23 Iowa State 75-47 in Dallas.

MAAC: Elizabeth Beynnon scored 15 to help top-seeded Marist (26-6) beat Iona 72-48 in Springfield, Mass., giving the Red Foxes their eighth straight tournament title and another trip to the NCAA Tournament.

SOUTHERN: Kayla Christopher scored off an offensive rebound with 8.2 seconds left to lift top-seeded Chattanooga (29-3) to a 64-63 victory over Davidson in the championship game in Asheville, N.C.

SUN BELT: Ebony Rowe had 20 points and 13 rebounds, helping top-seeded Middle Tennessee (25-7) reach the NCAAs for the fifth straight season with a 53-48 win over Arkansas-Little Rock in the championship game in Hot Springs, Ark.

WEST COAST: Haiden Palmer had 18 points, Taelor Karr added 14 and top-seeded Gonzaga (27-5) earned its fifth straight NCAA Tournament berth with a 62-50 win over San Diego in the championship game in Las Vegas.

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