March 7 (UPI) -- Nigel Williams-Goss scored 25 points and grabbed eight rebounds, and Przemek Karnowski added 19 points and seven rebounds in No. 4 Gonzaga's 77-68 win over Santa Clara in a West Coast Conference tournament semifinal game Monday night in Las Vegas.
Gonzaga (31-1) struggled to put away Santa Clara (17-16) after defeating the Broncos by scores of 88-57 and 90-55 during the regular season.
"It's March, so I don't think anything will come easy," said Williams-Goss, a Washington transfer who also had five assists. "Everybody's playing for their lives. We're expecting a fist fight from here on out."
The Bulldogs advance to the tournament championship game Tuesday against the No. 19 Saint Mary's, which blew out BYU 81-50 in the other semifinal game.
Jared Brownridge scored a game-high 32 points for Santa Clara, which trailed by only 68-63 with 2:01 left after a Brownridge layup.
"Throughout the season, we always used the word connectivity," Brownridge said. "Today we took a tremendous step with that. It felt good to be connected since it was a word we used all year."
A 3-pointer by Zach Collins with 47 seconds left put Gonzaga ahead 74-65 and effectively ended Santa Clara's upset bid.
The Broncos kept the game close for most of the first half, and the score was 24-24 with 6:54 remaining before the break. That was when Gonzaga gained separation, scoring 10 unanswered points, with the last six coming from Williams-Goss.
The Bulldogs took their biggest lead in the first half, 37-26, with 42 seconds left on a three-point play by Karnowski.
Brownridge made a 3-pointer at the buzzer to cut the Broncos' deficit to 37-29 at halftime.
"I missed a few easy ones early in the game, but I was happy to get that shot," said Brownridge, who made 12 of 25 shots from the field, including 4 of 12 from 3-point range.
A layup by Brownridge with 15:56 left in regulation narrowed Gonzaga's lead to 43-38, but the Bulldogs answered with a 9-0 run that included four points by Karnowski and a 3-pointer by Jordan Mathews.
After Gonzaga led 56-41 with 10:58 remaining, Santa Clara responded with a 10-0 run, capped by a dunk off an aggressive drive by Nate Kratch with 9:04 left.
The Bulldogs again responded, scoring six consecutive points to take a 62-51 lead with 6:33 remaining.
"It ended up being a heck of a game," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "Santa Clara, we really handled them pretty good in the regular season. They stepped up big in this game. We did a good job down the stretch of guys making big plays and hitting big shots."
Gonzaga is assured its 20th consecutive appearance in a conference tournament championship game. The Bulldogs have won 15 titles.
"I take that streak personally because a ton of people in Spokane come down to this tournament," Few said. "They spend a good portion of their hard-earned money to spend the whole week. We try to make it worthwhile.
"It's an amazing run. It's March, so it's really competitive. You're playing teams with a sense of desperation. This group and the ones before them are doing an incredible job."
-- Gonzaga is the top seed in the West Coast Conference tournament for the 16th time. The Bulldogs have won three straight WCC tournament titles as the No. 1 seed. Gonzaga is 32-5 in the WCC tournament as the top seed.
-- Santa Clara, which has had seven players miss time due to injury, has already eclipsed its win total (11) from last season and posted the best overall turnaround in the WCC. The Broncos finished above .500 in league play for just the third time in the last 10 years, and the first time since 2012-13.
-- Gonzaga G Nigel Williams-Goss topped the WCC, and was seventh in the nation, with a 91.3 percent free-throw rate entering Monday's game. He made 73 of his 79 free-throw attempts (92.4 percent) during conference play, which also led the league. He made 6 of 8 at the line Monday.
-- Santa Clara G Jared Brownridge (with 2,313 career points) ranks second on the school's all-time scoring list and fourth in WCC history. Brownridge owns the Broncos' record for most starts in a career with 129.