LAS VEGAS (AP) Alex Ducas set the tone with 18 of his 21 points in the first half, and No. 21 Saint Mary's went on to beat Santa Clara 79-65 on Monday night to make the West Coast Conference Tournament championship game.

The Gaels (25-7) will play No. 17 Gonzaga or San Francisco on Tuesday night in the title game.

“We have a big challenge ahead of us tomorrow, but I was really proud of the way our guys played,” Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said. “There's a lot of pressure in that game. It's a tough game to play. These guys came ready to play.”

Ducas made 7 of 11, all 3-pointers, and at halftime appeared well on his way to breaking his personal high of 25 points before becoming more of a facilitator in the second half.

“Every time I shoot the ball, I feel like it's going in,” Ducas said. “It's what I bring to the team, to space the floor and shoot the ball. My teammates and my coaches ... give me all the confidence in the world to keep doing it even if I miss a couple.”

The Gaels also had plenty more offensive weapons, with three other players also scoring in double figures that included Mason Forbes with 18 points. Forbes' sister, McKenzie, scored 26 points Sunday to lead No. 5 USC to a 74-61 victory over No. 2 Stanford in the Pac-12 Tournament women's championship that also was in Las Vegas.

Forbes wasn't quite ready to claim equal sibling bragging rights.

“We have one more game until I can be in that conversation,” Forbes said. “We knew that was going to be a scrappy game. That was definitely the mindset I had going into the game, to be physical and kind of take the punch to them.”

Carlos Marshall Jr. led Santa Clara (20-13) with 26 points, and Christian Hammond had 13.

“We faced this team before and we felt like we were ready to go today,” Marshall said. “They capitalized on our mistakes.”

Saint Mary's is in the WCC title game for third year in a row and fifth time in six years. The Gaels, who won the regular-season championship outright for the first time in 12 years, last took home the tournament crown in 2019.

They head into the championship having won 22 of 24 games, though the Gaels ended the regular season with a 70-57 loss to Gonzaga on March 2.

Saint Mary's got going right away against Santa Clara when Ducas made two 3-pointers, prompting Broncos coach Herb Sendek to called a timeout just 59 seconds into the game.

The Gaels used an eight-point run to pull ahead for good at 31-23.

Mitchell Saxen, the WCC defensive player of the year, picked up his fourth foul with 12:13 left and played only 25 minutes. He finished with nine points and eight rebounds before fouling out with 2:45 left.

Saint Mary's had plenty of firepower even without Saxen. The Gaels made nine shots in a row at one point and finished shooting 53.6%.


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