LAS VEGAS – Minutes after they had escaped San Francisco in the WCC semifinals, the second-ranked Zags were already looking forward to their next opponent in the locker room. Vengeance was on the table regardless of who won between Saint Mary’s or BYU. Would it be the Cougars? That’s who Filip Petrusev and Killian Tillie openly stated they wanted to see more in the WCC tournament championship.
Jordan Ford’s last-second jumper to give the Gaels a 51-50 win spoiled that. But one would think they’ll settle for avenging a loss that’s had a full year to ruminate.
Saint Mary’s, Gonzaga’s primary West Coast Conference rival will be on the other bench in the championship, just like in 2019. SMC shocked Las Vegas by taking down the Rui Hachimura and Brandon Clarke-led Zags to take home the championship.
Tillie described the feeling of walking off the court after that loss as “horrible” on Monday night. They have all the emotion backing them in 2020 to take down the Gaels, and their sixth man in Joel Ayayi showing the Orleans Arena that he might love Las Vegas as much as Tillie, delivering clutch baskets when the Bulldogs needed them against San Franscisco.
Saint Mary’s has that clutch man in Jordan Ford, who has now made two game-winning buckets to put his team in the finals. A double-OT battle with Pepperdine in the quarterfinals kept him on the floor for every single second of the game. They won thanks to his play at the end, but he’s now amassed 50 minutes in that game, plus the 34 against BYU. Against the Zags, he averaged 25.5 points in their two matchups in the regular season, so it will be interesting to see if his legs give out on him playing back-to-back big games, and to see how Gonzaga will guard him.
The Zags won both regular season duels by an average of 20 points, but all bets are off in the conference tournament, if last year was any proof.
Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s tip-off Tuesday night at 6 p.m., stay with 4 News Now for live updates from Alyssa Charlston at 5, 6, and Nightside at 11 to hear from the team. Follow us on Twitter @kxly4news and @alyssacharlston.
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