The students stormed the court. But it certainly didn’t feel like an upset.
The Saint Mary’s Gaels dismantled West Coast Conference powerhouse No. 21 Gonzaga 83-62 on Thursday night in front of a national audience, standing-room-only crowd, and a boisterous student section.
What may be most impressive is they did it with one of their best players, Rob Jones, in constant foul trouble and managing only two points (which came as the game was winding down) while shooting 1-for-6 from the field and going 0-for-3 from 3-point land. However, as good players do, Jones found other ways to contribute, dishing out a team-high eight assists (a career high) and grabbing a team-high 11 rebounds.
Matthew Dellavedova led the charge with 26 points, while freshman Brad Waldow had the first double-double of his young career with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
The Gaels also did an excellent job holding traditional Gael-killer Robert Sacre to only four points on 1-for-7 shooting. Elias Harris led the Zags with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
It was the biggest margin of victory for the Gaels over the Bulldogs since 1989, and it begs the question: Have the Gaels finally arrived? Many St. Mary’s fans and alums would argue they arrived in 2010, beating Gonzaga in the WCC Tournament championship game, and then Richmond and Villanova to move onto the sweet 16. However, beating up on the team you’ve always been viewed as playing second fiddle to cannot be understated.
The Zags have basically been the team to beat in the WCC the last decade, but this year the conference looks more like a three-headed monster composed of BYU, Gonzaga and St. Mary’s. With the 21-point demolition of the Zags, St. Mary’s could well be on its way to being at the top of that list.
St. Mary’s needs to be short in their celebration though, as it is still an uphill battle with the Gaels having road games at BYU and Gonzaga still left on the schedule.