The calendar may tell you it’s still February, but the amount of madness witnessed on Saturday would have you thinking it’s already March.
In what was unquestionably the biggest day for upsets in college basketball history, No. 23 Saint Mary’s triumphed 67-57 over No. 1 Gonzaga, the final domino to fall in an unbelievable slate in which all of the nation’s top six teams lost on the same day for the first time in history.
Before Gonzaga lost to Saint Mary’s, No. 2 Arizona saw the courts stormed on them as they were knocked off by Colorado. No. 3 Auburn was beaten by No. 17 Tennessee on the road, and No. 4 Purdue lost in exciting fashion to Michigan State. Right before Gonzaga tipped off, No. 5 Kansas lost to No. 10 Baylor, and before that, No. 6 Kentucky was beaten by No. 18 Arkansas. No. 9 Texas Tech also lost to TCU, making it seven of the nation’s top 10 teams to lose.
Much like those games, this one was no fluke; St. Mary’s commanded the game from start to finish, as Gonzaga never held a lead. The Gaels came out firing early, jumping out to an 8-0 lead in the opening minutes. The Bulldogs began to claw their way back in, but the Gaels responded with a 12-0 run over three-plus minutes to claim a 31-16 lead.
At halftime, St. Mary’s led by 15. Gonzaga trimmed it to 10 right away coming out of the break, but St. Mary’s wouldn’t let it get much closer than that. The Gaels kept the Bulldogs at an arm’s length until the final minutes, when Andrew Nembhard hit a pair of free throws to draw them within six points with 2:17 left to play.
Unfortunately for them, it appears as though St. Mary’s had destiny on their side. On the following possession, Kyle Bowen drilled a huge three to put the Gaels back up by nine and nearly blow the roof off McKeon Pavilion.
Julian Strawther stole the ball and put in a layup with a minute left to make it a six-point game and St. Mary’s came up empty the next time down, but Gonzaga couldn’t capitalize. Strawther was called for a charge, sending the ball back the other way and getting the fans out of their seats and down toward the court.
Gonzaga fouled Logan Johnson, and the senior nailed both free throws to basically wrap up the win. Strawther couldn’t get a three to go, and Chet Holmgren fouled Alex Ducas who hit them both. Gonzaga missed one last shot for the game, and the horn sounded and the St. Mary’s faithful came storming onto the court.
Tommy Kuhse led St. Mary’s with 14 points, six rebounds and four assists. Matthias Tass scored 13, Ducas added 10 and Johnson logged 10 points and eight rebounds. Bowen had six points, six rebounds and four assists.
Rasir Bolton was the game and Gonzaga’s leading scorer, finishing with 16 points. Nembhard had 15 points and three steals, and Strawther had 14 points and seven boards. Drew Timme finished with six points and eight rebounds and Holmgren logged six points, four blocks and six boards.