The St. Mary’s Gaels pulled off a monster conference road win thanks to another standout performance from team leader, guard Mickey McConnell. The Gaels pulled out the 73-71 victory courtesy of McConnell’s running off-balanced one-handed jumper with 1.4 seconds left. McConnell has has earned WCC Player of the Week honors, and a solid follow-up performance at Portland on Saturday should secure his third such honor. Gonzaga has now lost three straight WCC games for the first time since 1997.
Saint Mary’s got off to a slow start, falling behind 11-2 before fighting back in the first half. The Gaels trailed by two at halftime but jumped out in the second half. They led by as many as six points but couldn’t quite put the game away. Gonzaga rallied back and hit a pair of free throws with 10.2 second left to even the game at 71. St. Mary’s did not call a timeout and instead pushed the ball up the court. McConnell executed a small spin move before chucking up a short jumper from near the left side of the free throw line. It was an ugly shot but it went in and Gonzaga couldn’t hit a three-quarters court heave at the buzzer.
St. Mary’s resumes play this Saturday as they visit the 15-6 Portland Pilots. The Pilots are 3-3 in conference, tied with Gonzaga for fourth place in the WCC. St. Mary’s moved to three games ahead of Gonzaga but is only a game up on the surprising USF Dons. The Dons defeated Loyola Marymount 61-60 on a late three-pointer to improve to 5-1 in conference play. USF and St. Mary’s will square off for Bay Area bragging rights at USF’s War Memorial Gym on Saturday, February 12.