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Gonzaga wins 2016 WCC basketball tournament

Gonzaga is dancing for the 18th straight season.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Gonzaga defeated St. Mary's in the West Coast Conference Tournament on Tuesday, 85-75, to punch an automatic bid ticket to the NCAA Tournament. The win earns the 'Zags their 18th straight tournament appearance, where they hope to build on last year's Elite Eight loss to eventual champions Duke.

St. Mary's had beaten Gonzaga in both regular season matchups this year, but that old saw about beating a team three times in a season got the better of the Gaels in the conference final.

Emmett Naar led the Gaels with 25 points on 9-of-18 shooting and Joe Rahon contributed 16 of his own. Kyle Wiltjer led the way for Gonzaga with 17 points and 4 rebounds, and Domantas Sabonis added 15 points and 8 rebounds. Dane Pineau and Kyle Clark fell into foul trouble late for St. Mary's, with the former fouling out in the final minute, while second-half shooting troubles from Naar failed to lift his Gaels past the Bulldogs.

With the win, Gonzaga leapfrogs St. Mary's into the Big Dance, while the Gaels now slip back to the tournament bubble to await their Selection Sunday fate. Mark Few's club, on the other hand, no longer need worry about the committee's decision. St. Mary's 27 wins this season would certainly land them among the year's biggest snubs should they not get in Sunday, and they'll have Gonzaga to thank for that.