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LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 03: Rob Jones #22 of the Saint Mary's Gaels looks to pass against Cole Dickerson #25 of the San Francisco Dons during a semifinal game of the Zappos.com West Coast Conference Basketball tournament at the Orleans Arena March 3, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Saint Mary's won 83-78. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS -- At this point, not much needs to be said about the intensity that the Saint Mary's and Gonzaga men's basketball teams bring against each other on the court.

But, on the eve of their fourth straight West Coast Conference tournament championship game, that didn't stop the teams from upping the ante just a little bit.

"It's one of those things where we don't want them to get the championship. We're Gonzaga. That's how we think," Bulldogs center Robert Sacre said. "We're not trying to be cocky, but we don't want them to have the championship, so that's personal. And it's business. We need to get this game for the tournament and for good seeding and what not. It's a pride game."

They'll tip off at 6 p.m. at Orleans Arena, and when they do, it will be the rubber match of another competitive season series. Saint Mary's (26-5) won 83-62 at home on Jan. 12, and Gonzaga (25-5) returned the favor with a 73-59 win in Spokane on Feb. 9.

"It's always a good game. I can't say I hate them," Saint Mary's forward Rob Jones said. "On the court, I'm a good competitor and I like to win and I don't like to lose. When it comes down to it, that's my goal."

Bluster aside, there's more at stake than an NCAA tournament bid for both teams. Both are likely locks to make the big dance even if they don't win Monday.


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From Saint Mary's perspective, a win would further solidify what the Gaels have already accomplished. Having already snapped Gonzaga's 11-year run as regular season champion, a win in the conference title game would reinforce Saint Mary's standing atop the WCC mountain.

"It's never happened at Saint Mary's, win the league outright and win the tournament," Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said. "These guys' goals were very high to start the season and one of their goals was to win the league outright. They accomplished that, so we have to reset some goals, and the conference tournament is an obvious one."

The game is equally important for the Bulldogs. This is the time of year that Gonzaga traditionally hits its stride, and a win Monday could serve as yet another springboard to postseason success.

"We put these guys in a lot of adversity during the year and in a lot of tough situations," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "Sometimes, it overloads them. But eventually, by the time we hit now, I think they've pretty much experienced everything and they understand and know the growth that's needed to step up and meet the challenge."

  • Bennett said after Saturday's game that he does not expect guard Stephen Holt (injured right knee) to play Monday. He continues to rehab in hopes of playing in the postseason.

  • After several players slipped on it during the BYU-Gonzaga men's game, the WCC decided Sunday to remove its logo from center court of Orleans Arena.

    WCC TOURNAMENTS

    All games in Las Vegas
    Men
    Wednesday's first round
    No. 8 Portland 74,
    No. 9 Santa Clara 70
    Thursday's second round
    No. 5 USF 87,
    No. 8 Portland 66
    No. 6 San Diego 76, No. 7 Pepperdine 54
    Friday's quarterfinals
    No. 5 USF 67, No. 4 Loyola Marymount 60
    No. 3 BYU 73, No. 6 San Diego 68

    Saturday's semifinals
    No. 1 Saint Mary's 83,
    No. 5 USF 78
    No. 2 Gonzaga 77,
    No. 3 BYU 58
    Monday's final
    No. 1 Saint Mary's (26-5, 14-2) vs. No. 2 Gonzaga (25-5, 13-3), 6 p.m. ESPN
    Women
    Wednesday's first round
    No. 9 Loyola Marymount 66, No. 8 USF 60
    Thursday's second round
    No. 5 Pepperdine 56, Loyola

    Marymount 45
    No. 7 Portland 90,
    No. 6 Santa Clara 76
    Friday's quarterfinals
    No. 4 Saint Mary's 67,
    Pepperdine 63
    No. 3 San Diego 70,
    Portland 60
    Saturday's semifinals
    Gonzaga 83, Saint Mary's 78
    BYU 64, San Diego 46
    Monday's final
    No. 1 Gonzaga (26-4, 14-2) vs. No. 2 BYU (25-6, 12-4), noon, ESPNU