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This Week in Gonzaga History: Maui Instant Classic

Maui, PK80, and a UNC stunner

Getty Images - Greg Nelson

November 18 – Gonzaga is 7-0 on this day under Mark Few

No real notable games happened, but Gonzaga has played several season openers and fairly easy non-conference opponents on this date. They have beat Idaho twice, Montana once, and Utah State last season, amongst others. Some notable performances: Zach Gourde with 21 points and 9 rebounds against Idaho in 2001. Killian Tillie put up 20 and 9 against Utah State last year and JP Batista had his own 23 and 9 performance in 2005.

November 19, 2004 – McCarthey Athletic Center’s First Game

Gonzaga’s new, $25 million, 6,000-seat arena replaced the Martin Centre, where the Bulldogs posted a 161-15 record from 1991 through 2004. The Zags got 33 points from Ronny Turiaf and defeated Portland State 98-80. Since it opened in 2004, Gonzaga is 192-15 at the friendly confines of the MAC.

November 20, 2015 – Rui Hachimura commits to Gonzaga

Here’s a fun fact: Gonzaga has never played a game on November 20 under Mark Few. So that gives me more space to write about Rui. The big man from Japan was the cherry on top of a recruiting class that also included Zach Collins, Killian Tillie, Zach Norvell, and Jacob Larsen. It will go down as one of the best classes in school history, regardless of what happens in the future. You’re looking at four guys who could all have successful NBA careers and all four came from completely different parts of the world (Las Vegas, Chicago, France, Japan). Incredible haul.

November 21, 1999 – Mark Few’s First Regular Season Game as Head Coach

Mark Few took his Bulldogs over to Missoula in his first game as head coach and beat the Griz, 76-61 behind 17 points from Casey Calvary. The rest is history, as they say. I think he turned out to be a pretty good choice.

November 22, 2005 – Gonzaga-Michigan State Maui Classic

Okay, this is the moment you came to read about. Gonzaga defeated Michigan State 109-106 in triple overtime in the semi-finals of the Maui Invitational. Adam Morrison poured in 43 points. Maurice Ager responded with 36 for the Spartans. The shot making was insane. The intensity was off the charts. The level of the play was higher than most March games. “It was one of the greatest games I’ve ever been involved in,” Mark Few said afterward. To this day, it’s probably still the greatest game of any pre-season tournament in history. God bless Goran Suton for missing that layup. This video is the end of regulation. You can watch the rest of it if you follow the rabbit hole. Enjoy the trip!

November 22, 2006 – Gonzaga beats #2 North Carolina

One year after beating Michigan State in Hawaii, Gonzaga goes to New York and beats #2 UNC in the NIT Tip-Off semi-finals. It remains the highest ranked opponent Gonzaga has ever defeated. If all goes well, Gonzaga will have a shot at beating number one for the first time in school history when they face Duke on Wednesday. Even after losing Adam Morrison, Gonzaga handled North Carolina for most of this game. After weathering an early storm, Gonzaga controlled the game for 30 minutes before a late UNC run brought the Heels within a bucket. Jeremy Pargo ended the run with a huge and-one and Gonzaga held on the rest of the way.

November 23, 2005 – Gonzaga loses to UCONN in Maui Final

A day after beating Michigan State, #8 Gonzaga had to regroup and take on the number three team in the country. After Derek Raivio and JP Batista hit free throws to tie the game, Denham Brown hit a turnaround jumper with a second remaining to give the Huskies the 2005 Maui Championship. Adam Morrison, who won tournament MVP, scored 18 for the Zags in the loss, while Batista added 19 and eight rebounds.

November 23, 2009 – Gonzaga beats Colorado 76-72 in Maui Opener

For whatever reason, the Zags have a flare for the dramatic in Maui. This time, they staged a furious comeback to defeat the Buffs and begin their 2009 Maui run that ended in a championship. Colorado went on a 21-3 run in the first half and led by as many as 15. Gonzaga trailed 40-29 at halftime. Down 12 with 13 minutes to play, Gonzaga began to chip away and chip away, mainly by getting to the foul line. They also got a timely shot from Manny Arop (his only attempt of the game) as the shot clock expired to tie the game at 59. From there, Matt Bouldin and Steven Gray combined for the final 17 points, 15 of them at the line, to ice the win.

November 24, 2017 – Gonzaga-Florida PK80 Thriller

If there’s any non-conference game that could come close to the wild Maui game against Michigan State, it was the double-overtime classic against #7 Florida last season. Johnthan Williams put up a career-high 39 points, but was outlasted by Florida’s 17 threes and Jalen Hudson’s 35 points. Gonzaga had a chance to win it at the end of regulation, but didn’t get off a great shot. They had two chances to win it in the first overtime, but Silas Melson missed a game-winning free throw and a three pointer after Florida traveled on the rebound. Melson finished 4-for-16 from the field. The game was a whirlwind of emotions and lasted until damn near midnight pacific time.

Honorable Mention: Gonzaga lost to Dwyane Wade and Marquette in the finals of the Alaska Shootout in 2001.


Next week, we take a look back at a pair of program-altering injuries and a couple tournament championships in Florida.