Saint Mary's went up to Spokane, where the Zags have now lost four times this season, and left with a season sweep of Gonzaga.
It's a rivalry game and first place in the WCC was on the line, not to mention both teams' slim at-large hopes. So, naturally, both teams tried to give the game away but neither seemed to want it. Gonzaga scored just 0.89 points per possession. Saint Mary's was slightly better at 0.96. Gonzaga hit just five of 26 three point attempts. Saint Mary's coughed the ball up 11 times.
It was really ugly.
We should have seen it coming, though, considering the Gaels best-in-the-nation shooting offense was called for a shot clock violation on its second possession. Early on it seemed like Gonzaga was up for this one on senior night. Eric McClellan (13 points), a senior, was a lightning rod out the gate just like he was in the first meeting down in Moraga. He was diving for loose balls on defense and then imploring the crowd to get loud. On the other end he dished out two assists and hit a three to play a part in Gonzaga's first seven points.
But nobody else had that kind of fire.
The Gaels' point guard duo of Emmett Naar (13 points) and Joe Rahon (10 points) failed to hit a three and combined for six turnovers. Evan Fitzner (13 points) and Calvin Hermanson (10 points) joined those two in double-figures.
Down the stretch Saint Mary's held a lead but went cold. When the Gaels weren't missing shots they were coughing the ball up, three times in the final four minutes. So what did Gonzaga do? Pretty much nothing. They all but ignored their frontcourt duo of Domantas Sabonis (7 points) and Kyle Wiltjer (13 points).
Freshman Josh Perkins led Gonzaga with 21 points.
So now Gonzaga has dropped four games in a season at the McCarthey Athletic Center for the first time ever. Saint Mary's has one more quality win in a resume that features no RPI top-50 wins. More importantly, the Gaels are back in first place. They're tied with Gonzaga, but the season sweep gives them the tie breaker.
That's critical, because if the WCC is in fact a one bid league the WCC Tournament in Vegas will decide who dances. With the first seed the Gaels won't have to face Gonzaga or BYU in a win or go home (and to the NIT) scenario until the title game.