No. 10 Saint Louis has been the class of the Atlantic 10 this season, but for some reason the George Mason Patriots have given them a hard time. The Patriots took the Billikens to overtime in the first meeting before falling in St. Louis, and the same thing happened on Wednesday night in Fairfax. SLU won 89-85 in overtime, with a Jordair Jett free throw with nine tenths of a second remaining forcing the extra session.
All five starters scored in double figures for the Billikens with Jett finishing the game with 25 points, while Sherrod Wright scored 34 to lead the way for George Mason. Paul Hewitt’s Patriots scored 42 points in the paint, but the 23 points Saint Louis was able to score off of 14 George Mason turnovers eventually caught up to the home team. SLU’s now won 18 straight games, extending the longest such streak in school history, and they remain three games up in the loss column atop the Atlantic 10.
At this stage in the season the Billikens find themselves not only looking to win the Atlantic 10, but also in the race to earn a high seed in the NCAA tournament. And with the Scottrade Center in St. Louis hosting games on the first weekend, a hot finish to the season could result in the Billikens having the benefit of opening the NCAA tournament in their home city.
Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.
The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.
It wasn’t pretty.
And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.
Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.
The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.
But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.
Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: