St. Mary's Stuns No. 1 Gonzaga In WCC Championship

Gonzaga beat St. Mary's by 48 points in February

Ferrall On The Bench
March 13, 2019 - 8:51 am

USA Today Images

Categories: 

Saint Mary’s (22-11) stunned No. 1 Gonzaga (30-3) in the WCC Tournament final Tuesday, beating the Zags 60-47 to secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

For context: 

Gonzaga went 16-0 against the WCC in the regular season, winning by an average of 27 points per game. Two of those wins came against the Gaels: 69-55 on the road and 94-46 – yes, 94-46 – at home in Spokane on Feb. 9.

It was the Zags’ 20th straight WCC final – and their first WCC Tournament loss since 2012.

“It’s a little surreal right now,” St. Mary’s coach Randy Bennett said on Ferrall on the Bench. “They’re No. 1 in the country and they’ve been so dominant – I have so much respect for their program. And that team, the team they have right now, is really, really good. You could see it coming a little bit. We really improved defensively. The last three or four weeks, we went from not a very good defensive team to really good defensively – and that was the key tonight. You have to hold them down because they’re so explosive offensively.”

Gonzaga scored 100 points in its semifinal win over Pepperdine but scored just 24 points in the first half against St. Mary’s and 23 in the second.

“We kept them out of transition,” Bennett said. “I don’t think you have a chance to beat them unless you do that. We took care of the ball a little better and didn’t give them easy baskets. They missed the shots like Norvell normally hits, but we did a really good job on them defensively. I think once we kept them out of transition, they didn’t really look to run that much in the second half. They couldn’t get any big runs on us, and we were able to hit enough baskets down the stretch to hold them off.”

Norvell finished with 2 points on 1-of-11 shooting from the floor. As a team, Gonzaga shot 18-of-48 (37.5 percent).

St. Mary’s, meanwhile, shot 45.1 percent from the floor, as Jordan Hunter finished with 12 points and 15 rebounds.

“He was really good,” Bennett said. “He’s a really good athlete, he’s really been playing well, and he’s an athlete that can play in the same space as their guys on the boards. I thought Matthias Tass was a sneaky-key player for us because he can do a reasonable job on (Rui) Hachimura, who’s a really tough cover. Tass and Hunter can play with their guys, and they’re big enough and they’re athletic enough.”

St. Mary’s enters the NCAA Tournament having won seven of eight games. Gonzaga’s loss snapped a 21-game winning streak.