On a day when six top-10 men’s college basketball teams lost, top seed Gonzaga, too, succumbed to the annoyance.
Saint Mary’s, ranked No. 23 In a Ferris Mowers Coaches surveycame out of the fire to build a major lead and did enough to fend off the Bulldogs (24-3, 13-1 WCC) into clinging 67-57 upset on Saturday.
Gonzaga, the favorite for the top-seeded NCAA Tournament on Selection Sunday, hasn’t lost since early December, posting 17 straight wins before Saturday’s setback. It was the team’s first loss of the season in the West Coast Conference, which has been greatly improved this year and features four teams in the anticipated championship field in USA TODAY Sports’ latest bracket. ‘Zags’ has not lost playing WCC since February 22, 2020, when he lost at Brigham Young.
The Gaels (24-6, 12-3 WCC) had massive plays from veterans. Tommy Kohsi (14 points) Paved the way in the inspiring effort to secure the annoyance. Matthias Tass (13 points), Alex Dukas and Logan Johnson (10 points each) join Kohsi in double digits.
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Fans stormed the field at McKeon’s suite, as the Giles finished 16-0 the season.
“This is really special,” St Mary’s coach Randy Bennett said of his team’s exemplary home record. “It was hard to get. We lost it a year to Loyola Marymount in our last home game. It was hard to get and we finally got it. Especially when it’s against the first team in the country, it makes it…a night you will never forget.”
Tass, one of the seniors, said he “wanted to go in the middle of the circle and kiss the crest but people were running in the field so it was tough”.
“It was definitely a surreal moment,” he added.
Gonzaga All-American and National Player of the Year Drew Timm, the frontrunner racer, played terrible, shooting 2 for 10 from the ground – including a 0 for 8 in the first half as the Bulldogs fell behind 36-21 – to finish with Six points.
“He got his touches but after three or four rebounds we had three guys around him and kicking the ball out of his hands in the first half,” Tass said. “That kind of ruined his rhythm. It was hard for him to recover from that.”
The vitriol also turned the ball uncharacteristically above 14 . times, which didn’t match up well with an old road attack (Bulldogs fired only 36.7% from the field).
They were very aggressive. They chased after us and played with us really, really physically,” Gonzaga coach Mark Vue said of St Mary’s. “That was it. When you are the most aggressive and physically strong team, you are likely to win nine times out of 10.”
The top five teams in the Ferris Mowers Coaches poll lost to 25th on Saturday, with second place in Arizona (loss to Colorado), No. 3 Kentucky (loss to Arkansas), No. 4 Auburn (loss to Tennessee) and fifth. KS (loss to Baylor) is also falling. No. 7 Purdue (loss to Michigan State) and No. 9 at Texas Tech (loss to TCU) had a turbulent day in the sport.
“It kind of comes alive in late February and early March, especially on the road,” he said little about his team’s loss.
Gonzaga is still in a good position to get the top seed on Selection Sunday, although unlike last year, he lost ‘Zags’ multiple times. In 2020-21, the Bulldogs entered the NCAA Championship with tremendous pressure trying to overcome defeat before losing to Baylor in the national title match.
Follow college basketball reporter Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson.
Contributing: Associated Press