MORAGA — No. 5 Gonzaga took a major step toward winning the West Coast Conference regular-season men’s basketball title on Thursday by beating St. Mary’s 77-60 at sold-out McKeon Pavilion.
The Bulldogs built a 15-point lead in the second half, then had to beat back a St. Mary’s rally to end the Gaels’ nine-game winning streak and hand St. Mary’s its first home loss of the season.
Gary Bell Jr. had 20 points for Gonzaga (24-2, 11-0 WCC), while Kevin Pangos added 18 and Kelly Olynyk had 17.
Matthew Dellavedova scored 19 of his game-high 22 points in the first half for the Gaels (21-5, 10-2). Stephen Holt had 17 points.
The win gave Gonzaga a two-game lead over second-place St. Mary’s in the WCC with five conference games remaining, so the Bulldogs likely will win the regular-season WCC title for the 12th time in 13 years.
Gonzaga quickly overcame a one-point halftime deficit by scoring the first seven points of the second half, a run initiated by Bell’s 3-pointer 21 seconds into the half.
The Bulldogs’ lead grew to 15 points when Olynyk made a 3-point shot at the 14:39 mark to complete a 20-4 run.
St. Mary’s led 33-32 at halftime, thanks to the work of Dellavedova, who hit five of seven 3-point shots in the first 20 minutes, when he scored 19 points. Sixteen of St. Mary’s 25 field-goal attempts in the first half were 3-pointers.