LAS VEGAS -- Once more, the Saint Mary's College basketball team labored to generate enough offense against West Coast Conference powerhouse Gonzaga.
This time, the Gaels' failings sent them home from the WCC tournament after a 70-54 loss in the semifinals Monday night at the Orleans Arena.
The top-seeded Bulldogs (27-6) advanced to their 17th consecutive WCC championship game, where they will play BYU on Tuesday at 6 p.m. The Cougars defeated USF 79-77 in overtime in Monday's late game.
Just nine days removed from a 28-point home loss to the Bulldogs -- the worst defeat in coach Randy Bennett's 13 seasons -- the Gaels competed better but still couldn't solve the Gonzaga defense.
"Against these guys, you've got to play hard and play well," Bennett said. "We played harder, but we didn't play well."
The Gaels made just three baskets in the opening 12 minutes, trailed 31-20 at halftime and were down by 18 midway through the second half.
Gone is their bid for a third straight NCAA tournament berth -- unprecedented in school history. At 22-11 with an RPI computer rating of No. 60, the Gaels will await an NIT bid. The 11 losses are their most since going 17-15 in the 2006-07 season.
"We're going to be excited for our next opportunity," senior point guard Stephen Holt said.
Saint Mary's beat Gonzaga four times from 2010 through 2012, but the Zags have swept six meetings the past two seasons.
The margin was decisive three times this season, thanks mostly to the Gaels' inability to score. They shot a combined 27 percent in two regular-season losses, and converted just 37.3 percent on Monday to go with 17 turnovers and 11 missed free throws.
Saint Mary's scored at a 74.2-point clip against everyone else this season but averaged just 50.7 in three tries vs. Gonzaga.
"They're the best team in our league defensively," Bennett said. "They definitely give us problems."
At least All-WCC center Brad Waldow was able to get on track. After shooting 4 for 16 in the two previous meetings, Waldow scored 14 points on 5-for-7 accuracy.
But Holt, the Gaels' all-conference senior, had no room to operate against the aggressive Gonzaga defense. He scored just four of his 13 points in the game's first 36 minutes, and in three games vs. the Zags shot 5 for 20.
"He's the head of the snake," said Gonzaga guard David Stockton, son of Hall of Famer John Stockton. "We want to have him see a lot of eyes."
Two nights after making the winning layup vs. Santa Clara, Stockton had another big game, scoring 21 points -- triple his season average.
Gary Bell Jr. added 14 points and Sam Dower had 12 points and nine rebounds.
The Gaels battled within 33-27 after a 3-pointer by Kerry Carter with 17:19 left in the game. But that was their last gasp. Kevin Pangos answered with a 3-pointer for the Bulldogs, sparking a seven-point burst that stretched their lead back to 40-27.
BYU 79, USF 77: The Dons' dreams of their first NCAA tournament appearance in 16 seasons died with an overtime loss to the Cougars.
USF's Avry Holmes missed a tough fall-away shot from the right corner, and Tim Derksen couldn't convert a tip-in try as the buzzer sounded.
"I thought we gave a winning effort. I'm absolutely proud of my guys," USF coach Rex Walters said.
Tyler Haws scored eight points in overtime for the Cougars (23-10), who failed to score in the final 6:10 of regulation. USF (21-11) rallied from eight points down to force overtime.
Haws led all scorers with 24 points. Cole Dickerson had 20 points and 10 rebounds for USF.
Gonzaga 68, Saint Mary's 60: The Gaels (22-9) are seemingly headed to the Women's NIT for the fifth straight season after succumbing to the 10-time regular-season champion Bulldogs (28-4) in the WCC semifinals. Jackie Nared led the Gaels with 29 points.