NCAA Tournament Lies Ahead for Gaels

LAS VEGAS – Just how special a season has the Saint Mary’s men’s basketball team had?

Well for starters, another epic battle with Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference Tournament final showed just how closely matched the No. 17-ranked Gaels are with the No. 1 team in the country. A razor-thin margin throughout the second half saw the Bulldogs pull away late but the 82-69 final score certainly doesn’t do justice to the grit and determination put forth by Saint Mary’s.

Even with Tuesday’s outcome, the fact also remains that in many years a loss to Gonzaga in the conference final would have left the Gaels with a nervous couple of days to sweat out whether or not their season might continue in the NCAA Tournament.

This time, even though the Gaels couldn’t pull out a victory, they left Orleans Arena confident that they will have March Madness to look forward to. The Gaels will learn their postseason destination on Sunday inside the cozy confines of University Credit Union Pavilion with a public event beginning at 2 p.m.  

On Tuesday, the grit of a Gaels squad that has captured the attention of the national college basketball landscape and earned the moniker “Gritty Not Pretty” showed once again. After trailing by 10 at halftime, SMC kept fighting, cutting the deficit to just two with just over nine minutes to play.

Gonzaga took control with under five minutes to play, at one point making nine shots in a row to rebuild its lead. Logan Johnson led Saint Mary’s with a game-high 21 points, and Tommy Kuhse, Matthias Tass, and Alex Ducas all finished in double digits scoring.

No matter Tuesday’s outcome, Saint Mary’s carries the great feeling of an incredible season with it into the postseason. The Gaels’ resume includes a 25-7 record that includes its share of memorable moments. Of course, the most vivid memory came on Feb. 26 when a capacity crowd stormed the University Credit Pavilion court after a 67-57 win over the top-ranked Bulldogs.

But, that wasn’t the only memorable moment. After a year of limited fan interaction due to COVID-19, the home court edge that Saint Mary’s has made famous came back in full force. Home wins over San Francisco and BYU featured more of the familiar Gael spirit, and SMC fans reminded the nation again why UCU Pavilion is well known as one of the best college basketball atmospheres in the country.

Now, attention turns to what lies ahead. On Sunday, March 13, all fans, students, faculty and staff are invited to attend the NCAA Selection Show Watch Party inside University Credit Union Pavilion beginning at 2 p.m.

The selection show will begin live at 3 p.m. and will be viewed on the videoboard inside UCU with the men’s team and coaching staff. The Pavilion Plaza will be open at 2 p.m. and the first 500 fans will receive a free t-shirt.

The Saint Mary’s ticket office will be on site to assist with any questions regarding tickets for the NCAA Tournament. For questions, email smctickets@stmarys-ca.edu or call 925-631-4689.