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Gonzaga beats Saint Mary’s in 2OT thriller

What a game

Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review

Zykera Rice beat the buzzer, Gonzaga overcame two key injuries, and beat Saint Mary’s 78-77 in double overtime in one of the most dramatic games in WCC history. They advance to play the winner of BYU/Pepperdine in the WCC championship tomorrow.

Saint Mary’s jumped out to a very quick 7-0 lead. Gonzaga was on their heels for most of the first half and trailed by as many as 11. They regained their composure and crawled back to within four at halftime. The Zags shot just 36 percent and hit zero threes.

Laura Stockton went down early in the third quarter with a nasty leg injury. She returned to the bench later on crutches and an air cast. The fire was lit under the Zags when she went out of the game, as they went on a 14-2 run to give them their first lead of the game. The game would be tied at 48 heading to the final 10 minutes.

Jill Townsend, as she so often does, hit a huge three to give Gonzaga a 55-53 with six minutes to go. The Gaels would hold the Zags to four points the next five minutes and hold a 61-59 lead with a minute to go.

Townsend, again, came to the rescue. Her layup with 40 seconds to go tied the game at 61. After a Saint Mary’s miss and a Gonzaga turnover, Saint Mary’s had the final shot. LeeAnne Wirth blocked the shot and Gonzaga’s halfcourt heave at the buzzer hit the side of the rim to send the game to overtime.

In the overtime, Katie Campbell connected a three-point play the old fashioned way, her first basket of the game, to take a two point lead with 2:30 to go. With the Zags trailing by three, a Chandler Smith steal led to a Townsend three-point play to tie the game again with a minute to go. The teams would trade misses and send the game to double OT.

As if losing Stockton wasn’t enough, Townsend went down with leg injury to start the second overtime. They put her in an air cast as well. Amazingly, Gonzaga persevered. Buckets by Campbell and Jessie Loera put the Zags up one with 40 seconds to go, looking for one stop. They would not get it. A Gaels basket with 14 seconds to go gave them a one point lead and Gonzaga one last chance to win it.

Zykera Rice would come through with a shot to beat the buzzer and give Gonzaga one of the most dramatic 78-77 victories ever.

Now we await word on the injuries to Stockton and Townsend. But for now, rejoice in an incredible victory. One that happened because of Gonzaga’s depth and pure will to win. They play for the WCC Title tomorrow at 1 pm on ESPNU