LAS VEGAS -- Once again, the Saint Mary's College basketball team must wait to learn its NCAA tournament fate after a 65-51 loss to Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference tournament final Monday night at the Orleans Arena.
A sellout crowd of 7,896 fans -- most of them from Spokane, Wash. -- cheered as the nation's No. 1 team put together a methodical and decisive victory to secure the WCC's automatic NCAA bid.
While the Bulldogs (31-2) await a likely No. 1 seed, the Gaels (27-6) won't know if they have a spot in the field until Selection Sunday.
"You just go on," Gaels coach Randy Bennett said of his approach to dealing with the unknown. "I don't want to jinx us ... We've lost to one team since Christmas. Pretty good season."
Saint Mary's began the day with a No. 37 RPI ranking and hasn't lost to anyone except Gonzaga since Dec. 23. But the Gaels have been here before, and it hasn't always been good news.
In 2005 and '08, Saint Mary's earned at-large entries, but in '09 and '11 the Gaels were snubbed by the NCAA selection committee. Saint Mary's, the 2012 WCC tournament champion, is hoping for consecutive NCAA berths for the first time in school history.
Now 0-8 all-time against the nation's top-ranked team, Saint Mary's never led after being up 16-15 and watched the Bulldogs quickly extend a 38-29 halftime advantage.
Gonzaga, the WCC's first No. 1 team since USF in 1977, ran its offense to near-perfection, scoring 18 layups or dunks. Forward Kelly Olynyk had 21 points and 12 rebounds, and forward Elias Harris added 19 points.
Olynyk brought the house down when he dunked over the Gaels' Brad Waldow, pushing the Zags' lead to 53-34 with 13:39 left. Saint Mary's never again got closer than 12 points.
"It was a complete game," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "We played fantastic defense ... and we ran pretty darn good offense most of the night."
The Gaels shot just 36 percent, including 7 for 27 from 3-point range.
"Sometimes playing well comes down to making some shots," Bennett said. "We don't have that margin of error against a team like Gonzaga is this year."
Stephen Holt scored 19 points for Saint Mary's, but star guard Matthew Dellavedova was held to two points and seven assists. The senior from Australia had 19 assists in two games here but shot 3 for 20 from the field.
Gonzaga played him man-to-man but double-teamed on every ball screen, forcing someone else to make a play.
Few said facing the tough and cerebral Dellavedova "is kind of like playing Tom Brady," with his ability to usually find something that works.
"We did a great job against just a phenomenal college player in Dellavedova," Few said. "Our aggressiveness took a lot of their looks out of the equation."
Saint Mary's led 16-15 before Sam Dower put Gonzaga ahead to stay with a jumper at 12:27.
The Gaels lost senior guard Jorden Page with 11:42 left in the first half when he landed awkwardly and injured his right knee. Bennett said the trainer was "pretty optimistic" that the injury isn't serious.
How Saint Mary's and Gonzaga have fared against each other in the WCC tournament title game:
Year Winner Score
2004 Gonzaga 84-71
2005 Gonzaga 80-67
2009 Gonzaga 83-58
2010 Saint Mary's 81-62
2011 Gonzaga 75-63
2012 Saint Mary's 78-74 (OT)
2013 Gonzaga 65-51