Gonzaga Secures Automatic Bid With 2011 WCC Tournament Championship Win

The WCC Tournament kicks off on Friday and the Gonzaga Bulldogs join the action on Sunday. Stay tuned to our StoryStream throughout the tournament for the latest news and scores.

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Gonzaga Basketball To Make 13th Straight NCAA Tournament Appearance

The Gonzaga basketball dynasty continued its freight train-like run through the West Coast Conference on Monday night with a 75-63 win over St. Mary's in the WCC Tournament finals. The win ensures Gonzaga its 13th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, coming by way of the WCC's automatic bid into the tournament. In a down year, where the Zags struggled early and barely squeaked out the WCC regular season title, sharing the honors with St. Mary's, the automatic bid may have been the Bulldogs only way into the field of 68.

The Bulldogs reign of terror over the conference has spanned the entire last decade. The last time Gonzaga didn't bring home the regular season title was 2000, a year they took home the tournament championship and the conference's auto-bid. After making its first March Madness appearance in 1995, Gonzaga has run off an impressive streak, making the NCAA tournament every year since 1999. The streak includes five Sweet Sixteen appearances and a spot in the Elite Eight once, in 1999.

The Bulldogs have been remarkably consistent, even if the WCC isn't on the same level as the NCAA's power conferences. The depth of talent it takes to rise above the rest, year in and year out, cannot be understated, a testament to the recruiting efforts of head coach Mark Few. From Cinderella to a major player on the national scene, Gonzaga has built itself an empire, staying just ahead of the pack in the WCC.

On Selection Sunday, the Bulldogs won't have to anxiously wait, hoping their name gets call, after winning the WCC Tournament on Monday. In a year where Gonzaga wasn't its usual, dominant self, the Bulldogs found a way to get it done, and will be dancing in March again.

For more on the game, check out the rest of our WCC Tournament StoryStream. To connect with Gonzaga fans, check out SB Nation's Slipper Still Fits.

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Gonzaga Basketball Wins WCC Tournament 75-63 Over St. Mary's

Tonight's game wasn't quite the classic that the first two meetings between the Gonzaga Bulldogs and St. Mary's Gaels were,  which might be considered an encouraging sign for Mark Few's team.

Gonzaga (24-9) defeated St. Mary's 75-63 (24-8) in the WCC Championship game to secure an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, which has to come as something of a relief after a season filled with inconsistency and anxiety about whether they'd be ready for March Madness at all.

Steven Gray led the Bulldogs with 15 points and seven rebounds while Robert Sacre added 12 points and eight rebounds. However, a significant reason why the Bulldogs were as successful as they were on the boards - particularly in the second half when they out-rebounded the Gaels 21-13 - was foul trouble. With both Rob Jones and Mitchell Young in foul trouble for much of the second half, SMC simply wasn't able to put up much resistance in the post and while it wasn't necessarily Gonzaga's posts taking advantage of that, the driving lanes were plenty open for their guards and Sacre was set up for 10 free throw attempts and a massive uncontested dunk late in the game.

Despite being without a post rotation, SMC deserves credit for staying in this game as long as they did by continuing to run what they could and managing to minimize the bigger Sacre in the post. Meanwhile, their perimeter players did their best to keep them in it by playing the full 40 minutes - crafty Mickey McConnell came up big with 24 points, including 13-for-15 free throw shooting and Matthew Dellavedova came up big with 21 points on 8-for-17 shooting.

To celebrate with Gonzaga fans, visit the celebration thread at The Slipper Still Fits.

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