No 1 Gonzaga falls at Saint Mary’s on a tough day for the Top 10 | national

MORAGA, Calif. (AP) — Saint Mary’s finally has its first perfect home record — and a memorable win over top-ranked Gonzaga to go with it.

Tommy Kuhse had 14 points and six rebounds for No. 23 Saint Mary’s, who beat No. 1 Gonzaga 67-57 on Saturday night to prevent the Bulldogs from completing another unbeaten streak in the West Coast Conference.

“It’s really special,” Gaels coach Randy Bennett said after his side finished a 16-0 run at McKeon Pavilion. get it and we finally got it. Especially when it’s against the No. 1 team in the country, it just makes it…a night you’ll never forget.

The top six teams in the AP Poll all lost on Saturday, and seven of the top nine; only Duke #7 won.

Saint Mary’s ended Gonzaga’s 17-game winning streak, beating a No. 1 team for the first time since eliminating the Bulldogs in the 2019 conference tournament title game.

“It’s a bit like life in late February and early March, especially on the road,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. His team clinched the WCC regular season title last weekend.

Fans flocked to the pitch in a wild celebration of the Gaels’ 18th straight win at McKeon Pavilion from last season.

Matthias Tass added 13 points for the Gaels (24-6, 12-3) and made a decisive block with 1:15 to go. Kyle Bowman hit a pair of clutch 3-pointers after missing his first seven shots.

“I wanted to go to the middle of the circle and kiss the logo but people were running onto the pitch so it was difficult,” Tass said. “It was definitely a surreal moment.”

Rasir Bolton scored 16 points for Gonzaga (24-3, 13-1). Drew Timme had six points and eight rebounds, but shot 2 of 10.

Saint Mary’s had lost seven straight against their Pacific Northwest rivals, including five in a row at home, before stunning the Bulldogs.

Gonzaga had beaten the Gaels hands down two weeks earlier and had won 34 consecutive conference games, 33 by double digits. But Saint Mary’s never let Gonzaga get comfortable on Saturday, leading from start to finish while earning its fourth straight win since that loss at Spokane.

“They were extremely more aggressive. They attacked us and played us really, really physically,” Few said of Saint Mary’s. “That was it. When you’re the most aggressive and physical team, probably nine times out of 10 you’re going to win.

Gonzaga trailed by 16 with 13 minutes remaining and came 57-50 before Bowen buried a 3-pointer. The Bulldogs responded with four runs, but Bowen made another 3 and Logan Johnson sank a pair of free throws.

The game drew a packed house at the McKeon Pavilion, with scouts from the Warriors, Knicks and Pistons in attendance.

Two nights after beating San Francisco 89-73, Gonzaga appeared sluggish and out of sync. The Bulldogs shot 31% in the first half and were outscored 17-5 in the final seven minutes before the break.

Timme, who was mocked by Gaels fans before the game as he practiced shooting from midfield, was choked out by defenders every time he put the ball in the paint. Gonzaga’s leading scorer missed all eight shots he fired in the first half, was called for a three-second violation in the key in the second half and nearly got a technical foul after kicking off inadvertently the ball near a referee’s head.

“He got his touches, but after three or four rebounds we had three guys around him knocking the ball out of his hands in the first half,” Tass said. “That kind of ruined his pace. It was hard for him to recover from that. »

BIG PICTURE

Gonzaga: Timme wasn’t a factor for most of the game, which put the Bulldogs in a big hole they never came out of. The final score was not indicative of St. Mary’s dominance. Gonzaga is 0-3 this season when trailing at halftime.

Saint Mary’s: Bennett spent the week telling anyone who would listen that he liked his team’s chances. It was rewarded with the Gaels’ biggest win in more than three years, a win Bennett called one of the biggest in program history.

FOLLOWING

Both teams will enjoy an extended break before competing in the WCC tournament in Las Vegas in March. Gonzaga is the first seed and Saint Mary’s is the second. Both will be byes and will not have to play until the semi-finals on March 7.

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