LAS VEGAS -- Matthew Dellavedova climbed the ladder, snipped a portion of net and let out a yell that rang through Orleans Arena.
It meant only one thing: The Gaels are headed back to the NCAA tournament.
The West Coast Conference tournament came down to overtime, and Saint Mary's had enough left to defeat rival Gonzaga 78-74 on Monday.
With the victory, the Gaels (27-5) earned a trip to the big dance for the first time since their run to the Sweet 16 in 2010.
"Just happiness," said Dellavedova, who was named tournament MVP after scoring 22 points. "We've worked really hard for this. I'm happy to do it with this bunch of guys and these coaches."
It almost didn't happen. Leading by three with time winding down, the Gaels forced Elias Harris to fire a long distance 3-pointer from the top of the key. Harris connected, blowing the roof off the arena and sending the game to overtime.
"I couldn't get to them to tell them to foul. I should've called a timeout," Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said. "Didn't do it, and he hit a tough shot. I told them that. They played good defense. The shot was contested, and he hit a good one."
Gonzaga (25-6) scored the first two points of overtime, but the Gaels took the lead with baskets by Brad Waldow and Jorden Page.
Gonzaga guard Gary Bell Jr. evened the score at 72-72 shortly thereafter, but Saint Mary's took over at the free-throw line. Dellavedova made four free throws down the stretch, and Page added two.
Dellavedova's two free throws with six seconds left iced the victory and sent Gaels fans into euphoria.
"It's one of the best games I've been a part of. Both teams played at a high level right from the beginning," Bennett said. " ... Our guys showed a lot of toughness."
There were enough heroes to fill the building. Rob Jones, a fifth-year senior, scored 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Page added 16 points, and Waldow had 13.
"I put my will out there and did what I wanted to do," Jones said. "At some point, I just needed to be stronger and tougher."
The Bulldogs didn't relinquish their hold on the conference title easily. Harris scored 11 points in the first half en route to a team-high 22 and also grabbed 13 rebounds. Robert Sacre added 17 points.
Where the stat sheet turned in Saint Mary's favor was in the backcourt. Heralded Gonzaga freshman Kevin Pangos, who scored 30 points against BYU on Saturday, ended with just seven Monday.
That was a credit largely to Dellavedova, who drew the defensive assignment on Pangos and locked the freshman down all night.
"Not having (Stephen) Holt, I had to guard him," Dellavedova said. "I tried to focus in and not let him get any 3s. That's more important, that they don't score."