MORAGA(AP) — Tommy Kuhse had 14 points and six rebounds and No. 23 Saint Mary’s beat No. 1 Gonzaga 67-57 on Saturday night to prevent the Bulldogs from completing another undefeated run in the West Coast Conference.
The top six teams in the AP poll all lost and seven of the top-nine fell Saturday.
Fans poured onto the court at in a wild celebration of the Gaels’ 18th consecutive win at McKeon Pavilion.
Saint Mary’s ended Gonzaga’s 17-game winning streak, beating a No. 1 team for the first time since knocking off the Bulldogs in the 2019 conference tournament title game.
Matthias Tass added 13 points for the Gaels (24-6, 12-3) and made a pivotal block with 1:15 seconds remaining. Kyle Bowman made a pair of clutch 3-pointers after missing his first seven shots.
Rasir Bolton scored 16 points for Gonzaga (24-3, 13-1). Drew Timme had six points and eight rebounds, but shot 2 of 10 for the Bulldogs, who had already clinched the WCC regular-season title.
Saint Mary’s had lost seven straight to its rivals from the Pacific Northwest, including five straight at home, before stunning the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs had beaten the Gaels handily on Spokane two weeks earlier and had won 34 consecutive conference games, 33 by double-digits.
But Saint Mary’s never let Gonzaga get comfortable, leading from start to finish while winning their fourth straight since that loss to the Bulldogs.
Gonzaga trailed by 16 with 13 minutes remaining and got to 57-50 before Bowen buried a 3-pointer. The Bulldogs responded with four points, but Bowen made another 3 and Logan Johnson sank a pair of free throws.
The game drew a packed house at McKeon Pavilion, with scouts from the Warriors, Knicks and Pistons in attendance.
Two nights after thumping San Francisco 89-73, Gonzaga appeared sluggish and out of sync against Saint Mary’s. The Bulldogs shot 31% in the first half and were outscored 17-5 over the final seven minutes before the break.
Timme, who was taunted by Gaels fans before the game as he practiced shooting from midcourt, was smothered by defenders every time he got the ball in the paint. Gonzaga’s leading scorer missed all eight shots he took in the first half, was called for a three-second violation in the key in the second half and nearly got hit with a technical after inadvertently tossing the ball near a referee’s head.
Gonzaga: Timme was a non-factor for most of the game which set the Bulldogs into a big hole they never got out of. The final score was not indicative of how dominant St. Mary’s was. Gonzaga is 0-3 this season when trailing at the half.
Saint Mary’s: Coach Randy Bennett spent the week telling anyone who would listen that he liked his team’s chances. He was rewarded with the Gaels biggest win in more than three years.
Both teams will get an extended break before playing in the WCC tournament in Las Vegas in March. Gonzaga is the top seed while Saint Mary’s is No. 2. Both will get byes and won’t have to play until the semifinals on March 7.
Bocs news Sources: news10