Saint Mary’s Patty Mills put on a show in the first half. Unfortunately for the Gaels, the sharp-shooting sophomore guard had to put on an ice bag for the second half.
Mills drained six 3-pointers, scored 18 points and staked Saint Mary’s to a six-point halftime lead, but a sprained right (shooting) wrist kept him on the bench for the second half and the Gaels were powerless to stop Gonzaga, who rallied for a 69-62 West Coast Conference men’s basketball victory Thursday.
The 20th-ranked Bulldogs (15-4, 6-0 WCC), playing in front of a boisterous crowd of 6,000 at the McCarthey Athletic Center, rode their trademark balanced offense to their seventh straight victory and sole possession of first place in the conference. No. 22 Saint Mary’s (18-2, 5-1) had its nation-leading 15-game winning streak snapped.
Guards Matt Bouldin (17 points), Steven Gray (14) and Jeremy Pargo (11) paced the Zags, who wiped out Saint Mary’s 39-33 halftime lead with a 13-6 run to open the second half. Gray had the first five points of the spurt.
The Gaels reclaimed the lead on Omar Samhan’s putback but Gonzaga responded with 12 unanswered points. Micah Downs’ dunk on a lob pass from Pargo gave GU the lead for good, 50-48, with 12:11 remaining.
The run continued with Gray burying an uncontested 3, Austin Daye driving for a bucket in the paint, Downs hitting 1 of 2 free throws and Bouldin scoring on another drive to the hoop.
Saint Mary’s pulled within seven in the closing minutes, but the Bulldogs made 5 of 6 free throws in the last minute to retain a comfortable margin.