Gonzaga extends nation's longest home win streak to 35
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) -- Gonzaga found a way to win at home again even on a night star forward Adam Morrison struggled.
Sean Mallon's free throw with less than a second on the clock gave the fifth-ranked Bulldogs a 62-61 victory over Saint Mary's on Monday, extending the nation's longest home winning streak to 35 games.
With the score tied, Mallon took an inbounds pass under the basket and was fouled by Daniel Kickert as he went up to shoot. The buzzer sounded, but the officials put .3 seconds back on the clock.
Mallon, an 80 percent free throw shooter on the nation's leading free throw shooting team, was short on the first one.
"I was really confident," Mallon said of the miss. "At first it was right on line. But I must have been more tired than I thought. I didn't give it enough leg."
Mallon was determined to keep overtime out of the equation.
"I put a little more leg into it, and snapped my wrist a little more," he said.
The ball went cleanly through the hoop, and Gonzaga intercepted the long inbound pass by Saint Mary's.
"I never had a free throw shot to end a game before," Mallon said, as he hugged his family and signed autographs afterwards.
Kickert, who led Saint Mary's with 15 points, took the blame for the loss.
"Why foul with .5 seconds left? It was dumb," Kickert said. "We should have beat them. We had enough confidence to beat them."
Gonzaga (19-3, 9-0 West Coast Conference) struggled the entire game against the Gaels, who outrebounded them 36-32, and held them to 44 percent shooting, including 4-of-14 on 3-pointers.
But the Bulldogs won their 10th straight game, tying them with Memphis and George Washington for longest current streak.
Morrison, the nation's leading scorer at 28 points per game, was in foul trouble much of the night and finished with 20 points on 7-of-20 shooting. J.P. Batista had 21 points and 11 rebounds, while Mallon, who averages 21 points less than Morrison, finished with 10 points.
"They played great," Batista said of the Gaels (10-11, 3-6). "Give credit to them."
Morrison made the score 61-61 by making two free throws with 52 seconds left.
Saint Mary's had plenty of time, but Todd Golden launched a long 3-pointer that missed and Gonzaga got the rebound.
"You don't know if you're going to get that good a shot again," Gaels coach Randy Bennett said of Golden's shot. "He's a good shooter."
Morrison dribbled the clock down to a few seconds, then grazed the front of the rim with a midrange jumper.
"He can't make them all," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said.
The ball went out of bounds off Saint Mary's, and with .5 seconds left, Derek Raivio inbounded the ball to Mallon for the winning sequence.
Saint Mary's has lost 21 of the past 22 games against Gonzaga, but the Gaels played with poise in front of a howling crowd at McCarthey Athletic Center. The Bulldogs have never lost at the arena, which opened last season.
Saint Mary's led 33-30 at halftime, the first time this season the Zags trailed a WCC opponent at the break.
Morrison, who scored only nine points in the first half, picked up his third foul early in the second half.
The teams traded the lead six times in the opening minutes of the second half. Consecutive baskets by Batista, David Pendergraft and Erroll Knight lifted Gonzaga to a 46-40 lead with 12:37 left.
Saint Mary's went on an 8-0 run with Golden's two free throws giving them a 50-49 lead. After Mallon made a layup for the Zags, Diamon Simpson scored three consecutive baskets for a 56-51 Saint Mary's lead. Brett Collins' basket gave Saint Mary's a 61-56 lead with 1:52 left. Morrison's slam and free throw cut the Gaels' lead to 61-59.
Gonzaga has not lost at home since Portland beat the Bulldogs on Feb. 19, 2003.
The only teams to beat Gonzaga this season are No. 1 Connecticut, No. 3 Memphis and No. 21 Washington.
Gonzaga hosts Stanford on Saturday.
In the first game between the teams, Saint Mary's trailed Gonzaga by two points with five minutes left before losing 68-60.
- Dick Cartmell
- Michael Eggers
- Steven Dreher
2022-23 West Coast Conference Standings