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Aidan Mahaney steals hearts of America in Saint Mary’s OT win over Gonzaga

The freshman netted 18 points, most of which came in final five minutes of regulation and overtime

NCAA Basketball: Gonzaga at St. Mary’s
After starting 1-for-10, freshman Aidan Mahaney scored 16 points down the stretch.
Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

MORAGA, Calif. – Saint Mary’s, who did not lead at all over the final 37 minutes of regular, needed someone to step up. Freshman Aidan Mahaney didn’t just show up for the 18th-ranked Gaels, he showed up for the entire country.

He scored or assisted on 19 of 21 points during the final five minutes of regulation and beginning of overtime to help Saint Mary’s take control of the contest against No. 12 Gonzaga. The Gaels pulled away in the extra period and won 78-70.

Mahaney scored 16 of his team-high 18 points over the final 6:25 of regulation and overtime after he started 1-for-10. He hit the shots to tie the game at 57 and 59 before setting up Mitchell Saxen for the layup that forced OT with five seconds left to even the game at 61.

Midway through the extra period, he torched the net with a 3-pointer to give the Gaels a four-point lead and then assisted on Saxen’s basket that made it a six-point game.

“He just has it,” SMC coach Randy Bennett said, according to The AP. “A lot of guys would fold and just kind of hang their head and just kind of finish the game like that. That’s where he’s kind of special. He’s got great belief and he really, really competes to win. That’s where he’s special.”

As University Credit Union Pavilion was rocking with Mahaney’s heroics, Twitter went ablaze as well.

Mahaney leads the Gaels at 15.0 points per game this season. He has scored in double figures in all but four games. He has eclipsed 20 points six times, including dropping 25 in his debut against Oral Roberts.

At 10-0 in the WCC, Saint Mary’s has now opened up a two-game lead over Gonzaga. The Gaels are eyeing their first outright regular season title since 2012.

This game was the 10th time in the series the two programs met while both being ranked. The Gaels picked up their second win in these games.