Moraga Madness: Gaels Take Down No. 1 Gonzaga

ESPN commentator Sean Farnham deadpanned the line, but his voice explained perfectly the emotion of an incredible night inside University Credit Union Pavilion as the seconds ticked down to the conclusion of the Saint Mary's men's basketball team's 67-57 win over No. 1 Gonzaga.

"They just took our chairs."

Thank goodness they did. Once the final buzzer sounded, Gael Force students streamed over the broadcast table and onto the court. Farnham and broadcast partner Dave Flemming found themselves moving towards midcourt, table in tow, as SMC supporters pushed forward. 

Sure, it came in a basketball context, but in reality the celebration served as a perfect example of the close-knit atmosphere that runs throughout the entire Saint Mary's College experience.

Long known as one of the most electric atmospheres in college basketball, the reputation of UCU Pavilion came to life once again as the Saint Mary's community celebrated one of the most consequential wins of the 2021-22 college basketball season.

The possibility of a win for the ages became apparent early. A 12-3 run put Saint Mary's ahead right away, and that lead stood at 36-21 by halftime.

Every time the No. 1-ranked Bulldogs tried to rally, Saint Mary's had an answer. The margin got as close as six with 2:16 left to play but a 3-pointer by Kyle Bowen pushed the lead back to nine. SMC scored the final four points of the game, all coming on free throws by Logan Johnson and Alex Ducas, and the celebration of not just a victory, but a dominant one at that, was on even before the final buzzer rang out.

Just how impressive a performance was it? The Gaels held an offense lauded as one of the nation's best to just 36.7 percent from the floor. Gonzaga's 57 points were 12 points less than its previous low this season.

The fact that the energy inside UCU Pavilion was at ear-shattering decibels wasn't a surprise. The Saint Mary's-Gonzaga atmosphere always makes for a party, but it was almost a day-long jubilee on campus. Students gathered as early as 3:30 p.m. on Chapel Lawn for games, fans gathered outside the Pavilion for pregame festivities, and once you got into the building, fans lined the walls with voices at full throat.

Looking for more evidence of what the UCU Pavilion atmosphere means for the Gaels? The victory pushed Saint Mary's overall record to 24-6 but it also improved the Gaels' home mark to a perfect 16-0 on the season.

Next up is a trip to the WCC Tournament, which begins next week in Las Vegas, but Saint Mary's will end the season undefeated at home, a testament not only to the talent and skill of the Gaels, but also the support of a community that knows how special the experience is when it comes to college basketball in Moraga.