Saint Mary’s senior guard Mickey McConnell was shut out when he visited the McCarthey Athletic Center last January.
McConnell more than made up for that scoreless performance with a nearly flawless effort Thursday, scoring 27 points and hitting a 13-foot shot in the closing seconds to lift the Gaels to a 73-71 men’s basketball victory over Gonzaga.
McConnell’s shot gave Saint Mary’s (18-3, 6-0 WCC) its first win in Spokane since 1995.
Gonzaga (13-8, 3-3 WCC) dropped its third straight game for the first time since 1997.
The Bulldogs led 69-68 after Robert Sacre made two free throws with 2:12 left. McConnell’s jumper returned the lead to Saint Mary’s and Mitchell Young’s free throw gave the Gaels a 71-69 edge with 19.9 seconds left.
Gonzaga’s Marquise Carter tied it up with two free throws with 10.2 seconds remaining. McConnell took the inbound pass, went around a screen and connected from the left side of the lane over Sacre with 1.2 seconds left. Demetri Goodson’s desperation shot from 65 feet was off line and the Gaels celebrated a rare victory in Spokane.
Sacre and Elias Harris each scored 17 points for GU. Sacre had 15 points in the first half. Steven Gray chipped in 14 points, but fouled out with 4:58 left. Sam Dower scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half, fueling a Gonzaga comeback after the Gaels had taken a 48-42 lead
Gonzaga got out to an early lead, 11-2, but the Gaels responded with two 3-pointers by Matthew Dellavedova and another by McConnell from 28 feet.
That would become a recurring theme in the first half. GU, fueled by eight straight points by Sacre, led 26-21 with 6:46 left, but Saint Mary’s rallied with seven consecutive points to take its only lead of the half, 28-26.
Gonzaga answered with a 9-0 spurt, capped by Harris’ 13-foot jumper.