MORAGA, Calif. (AP) -- E.J. Rowland stuck around late to sign
autographs. Daniel Kickert, Blake Sholberg and Paul Marigney
socialized for almost an hour courtside. It just seemed nobody on
the winning side could pull themselves away from the arena after
Saint Mary's beat Gonzaga (No. 17 ESPN/USA Today; No. 11 AP) for the first time in seven seasons.
Marigney scored 30 points with a career-high seven 3-pointers,
and the Gaels hit a school-record 16 3s to shock the Bulldogs 89-81 on Saturday night in a matchup of the West Coast
Conference's top teams.
"We just made a statement in the conference," Saint Mary's
forward Frederic Adjiwanou said. "That's a great feeling. You feel
special for a second. That's the whole school, the fans and the
community that have been looking for Saint Mary's to beat Gonzaga,
and we finally did it."
Kickert added 17 points with four free throws in the final
minute, and Rowland had a career-high 12 assists for the Gaels, who
extended their home winning streak to 11 games by ending a 17-game
losing streak to their conference nemesis -- Gonzaga's longest
against any WCC opponent.
Adam Morrison led five Gonzaga players in double figures with 20
Hundreds of students dressed in red stormed the court when the
final buzzer sounded, and the dejected Bulldogs made a quick exit.
Gonzaga (11-3, 1-1 WCC) had won 17 straight WCC games dating to
a 72-68 loss to Portland on Feb. 19, 2003, but got outhustled most
of the night by the inspired and feisty Gaels.
"They came out gunning for us and ready to go," Gonzaga's
Ronny Turiaf said. "They really shot well early, but we managed to
stick with it and still had a chance to win at the end."
Saint Mary's (14-4, 2-0), picked to finish second in the
conference to the Zags, won its eighth straight game and first
against Gonzaga since a 76-73 victory at home on Jan. 22, 1998. The
Zags won all three meetings last season, including 84-71 for the
WCC tournament title.
A sellout crowd of more than 3,500 was on hand to witness the
thrilling win at McKeon Pavilion, where another few hundred fans
lined the stairwells and upper-level walkways.
Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett could sense his team's
confidence in the locker room.
"It was totally different before the game," he said. "No
nervousness. It was calm. They knew they could get it done."
Brett Collins scored eight straight points during a key 11-2
second-half run, making two 3-pointers for a 69-54 lead, but the
Gaels then had lapses of 4:17 and 4:28 without a field goal -- yet
still held on despite a late charge by the Zags.
Gonzaga pulled to 78-72 on a basket by J.P. Batista with 3:08
left, but Adjiwanou drew Batista's fifth foul moments later and
made one free throw. Erroll Knight made it a three-point game the
next time down, and the Zags pulled within one on Morrison's basket
Marigney converted two free throws with 1:06 left.
Turiaf's funk continued for Gonzaga. He missed two free throws
with 56.7 to go and Gonzaga's second-leading scorer, playing on two
tender ankles, finished with 10 points on 4-for-9 shooting -- giving
him just 20 total points the past three games (7-of-30).
Marigney scored 20 of his points in the first half, making six
3-pointers to tie a school record for most in a half. He scored
eight straight points during one spurt, and 33 of Saint Mary's 41
first-half points came from long range (11-for-16).
"You've just really got to let the game come to you and get
comfortable," Marigney said. "When teams zone us, my eyes light
up. We've got guys who can shoot the ball well."
The Gaels opened the second half with a 9-2 run to build a 50-39
lead and forced Gonzaga into two quick turnovers. The Bulldogs
scored six unanswered points to pull within 54-50 with 15:04 left,
then Sholberg converted a three-point play on the other end.
Jason Walberg and Brett Collins hit back-to-back 3s to give the
Gaels a 64-52 lead with 12:30 to go.
"They live and die by the 3," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said.
"Tonight it worked for them."
After Santa Clara attempted 33 3-pointers against Gonzaga's zone
defense on Thursday, Saint Mary's knew it would have plenty of
chances from long range. The Gaels came out firing, and made five
straight 3s during one stretch to go ahead 18-15. Six of their
first seven baskets were 3s, four by Marigney. The Gaels improved
to 8-1 with Marigney back in the lineup after he missed the first
nine games of the season while on academic probation.
The Bulldogs have won five of the last six WCC tournaments, and
Saint Mary's knows its best chance of reaching the NCAA tournament
will be to win the tournament this time around.
Marigney guarded sophomore point guard Derek Raivio, who was
coming off a career-high 32 points against Santa Clara, and
Marigney also had five rebounds, three assists, a steal and a
The Gaels shot 53.6 percent in the first half and led 41-37 at
the break despite Gonzaga making 58.3 percent of its shots.