Tuesday , Mar , 09 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Turiaf too much for St. Mary’s

Santa Clara, CA (Sports Network) – Ronny Turiaf had 29 points and 14 rebounds
as No. 3 Gonzaga continued to win, posting an 84-71 victory over Saint Mary’s
in the West Coast Conference Tournament final.

The Bulldogs (27-2) extended their current wining streak to 20 games while
capturing their fifth WCC tourney title in the past six seasons. The win
provides Gonzaga with an automatic berth in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.

Blake Stepp, the WCC Player of the Year, contributed 19 points and six assists
in the win. Cory Violette added 16 points for the Bulldogs, who are projected
to get a favorable seed in the upcoming Big Dance.

E.J. Rowland and Frederic Adjiwanou each scored 16 points for second-seeded
Saint Mary’s (19-12), which failed to secure its first trip to the NCAA
Tournament in seven years.

After receiving a major scare after squeaking out a 63-62 win over Santa Clara
on Sunday night, the top-seeded Bulldogs did not experience quite as much
trouble in this one. Gonzaga led most of the way and answered every run the
Gaels threw at it.

Seven straight points by Saint Mary’s, capped by two free throws from Rowland,
allowed it to pull within 70-66 with five minutes remaining. But Gonzaga
answered immediately with a three-pointer by Tony Skinner which was followed
by a three-point play from Turiaf, pushing the margin to 75-66 with 4:09
remaining.

Saint Mary’s never threatened again in the contest, as Gonzaga avenged its
loss in the WCC Tournament finals last year. They lost to host San Diego in
last season’s conference tournament final.

Turiaf dominated the first half, constantly pounding the Gaels down low. His
dunk with 6:28 left in the opening 20 minutes allowed Gonzaga to open a 27-19
advantage.

After Saint Mary’s closed within 29-25 several minutes later, the Bulldogs
scored 10 straight points. Turiaf finished off the spurt with a lay-in that
made it 39-25 with just over a minute to play in the first half.

The Gaels scored the final four points of the half, including a lay-up at the
buzzer by Rowland, to head into the locker room down 10. Turiaf already had a
double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds to lead all players in both
categories at the break.

GONZAGA STMARYSCA