Despite the cruel ending, this season of Gonzaga basketball was probably the most fun in school history. It provided more incredible, historic moments than any past team. The offense put on a show worthy of the price of admission several times. Brandon Clarke and Rui Hachimura put out individual mix tapes on a nightly basis. Josh Perkins broke the all-time school assists record. Zach Norvell had scoring outbursts that made you jump out of your seat. It was difficult to narrow this piece down to a Top 10. And obviously my final Top 10 may not be yours, and that’s the beauty of this season. There were so many moments to look back on fondly. Without further ado, let’s re-live the top 10 moments of this incredible 2018-2019 Gonzaga Bulldogs season.
10. Second Half Snacks vs Creighton
In their 2017 match-up, Gonzaga trailed Creighton by seven heading into halftime. Freshman Zach Norvell, in his coming out Microwave Moment, scored 21 points in the second half to lead the Bulldogs to a 91-74 win. A year later, it happened again. Creighton led the top-ranked Zags by seven at half. And then Norvell scored 23 in the second half and Gonzaga beat the Blue Jays, 103-92. His James Harden-esque step-back three from the corner was the dagger.
9. Perkins to Norvell vs Arizona
Speaking of second half outbursts, let’s talk about the second half Gonzaga had against Arizona in Maui. The Wildcats took a 50-37 lead with 17:30 to go in the game. Gonzaga outscored Arizona 54-24 the rest of the way, in one of the most dominant stretches of basketball the entire season. It was capped off by one of the most memorable moments of the season, when Josh Perkins led the break, left the ball off for Zach Norvell, and ran back down court with his hands in the air, knowing Snacks was going to nail the three. This may have been the first moment that a lot of fans realized something special was going on with this team.
8. Beating Saint Mary’s by 48
Any time Gonzaga beats Saint Mary’s, it’s a good day. But to completely annihilate them like they did in early February was an absolute treat. There were so many moments within the game that I just put the whole game into one memory. Rui’s spin cycle layup, Geno Crandall’s behind the back pass for a Norvell 3, and an off-the-backboard alley-oop were all equally fantastic, and doing it against Randy Bennett’s team made it that much sweeter. It may have been Geno Crandall’s best game of the season, too.
7. Brandon Clarke vs Baylor
As fans who watched the entire season, we knew how good Brandon Clarke was. The general public, who may have stopped watching Gonzaga during the WCC season, probably didn’t realize his impact. So he went out and showed the entire world in the national spotlight why he is a top 15 NBA draft pick. He became just the third player in NCAA Tournament history to score 35+ points and block five shots. He carried the Bulldogs on his back with one of the most impressive single game performances in the history of the school.
6. Rui’s Game Winner vs UW
With Killian Tillie and Geno Crandall injured, Rui Hachimura had one of his best overall games of the season. He poured in 26 points, seven rebounds, and a pair of assists to go along with zero turnovers. We knew Rui was good, but this game was part of a long line of breakout games to start the season in which he made waves in the national headlines. (Also, Bill Walton was on the call and he is a National Treasure)
5. BYU Senior Night
There we so many moments within this game that I just put the whole game on here. Perhaps the best part of it all was that it came at home on Senior Night against the team that ruined so many senior nights in the past. It felt like an exorcism of past demons and the perfect send-off to several players who played their final game in The Kennel.
4. Brandon Clarke’s block vs Tennessee
There’s no need to recap what happened here. Brandon Clarke shattered the school record for blocks. This one against Yves Ponds was the best block of the entire college season and probably the best in Gonzaga history. The reaction from Sean Farnham made it even better.
DON’T TRY THAT ON BRANDON CLARKE pic.twitter.com/fYexzlrVmX— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) December 9, 2018
3. Josh Perkins’ senior season
Perhaps the most polarizing player in the history of the program, Josh Perkins came out on a mission this year. By whatever measure you want to use, he was fantastic. He set the school record for career assists, he became the leader everyone wanted him to become, and led the most dynamic offense in school history. It was an absolute joy watching him play basketball, and not seeing him running the point next season is going to be extremely weird.
Former teammates share their congratulations to @JoshPerk13 . As do we at @SWXRightNow & @KHQLocalNews . Hell of a player with one hell of a career. Which we all know, is far from over. pic.twitter.com/YPPSiOWiyK— Jordan Caskey (@jordancaskey) February 22, 2019
2. Zach Norvell’s 3 vs Florida State
As soon as the bracket was released on Selection Sunday, we all know Gonzaga would be playing Florida State again. It was destiny. This team was more equipped to face off against the lengthy and physical Seminoles than the year prior. They led pretty much the entire way. But FSU made a run late in the second half and there was a little bit of an “oh no, here we go” feeling as we headed to the final few minutes. But then Zach Norvell, as he did against UNC-Greensboro and Ohio State in 2018, came up with the biggest shot of the season. The dagger to beat Florida State, get revenge for last season, and send Gonzaga to their third Elite Eight in five seasons.
I would argue this was the biggest shot of the entire evening, and of course it came from Snacks. pic.twitter.com/0Ka9secvi4— Slipper Still Fits (@slipperstillfit) March 29, 2019
1. Gonzaga beats Duke
There are so many things to say about this game. I could probably do a top 10 moments of the season just on these 40 minutes. Gonzaga beat Duke for the first time in school history. They beat the number one team in the country for the first time ever. They showed the college basketball world that Zion Williamson and Co. were not invincible. Zach Norvell had one of the sickest up-and-under layups I’ve ever seen. Josh Perkins played, quite possibly, the best game of his career. Filip Petrusev scored 11 points off the bench. Duke missed two wide open dunks and it was hilarious. The defense held Duke scoreless the final minute, despite several shot attempts. Clarke and Hachimura swatted them all away. As Rui said after the game, “We are the best team in the country.”
Full Game if you want to re-watch and reminisce
Honorable Mentions: Josh Perkins’ first dunk, Jeremy Jones vs Illinois, Killian Tillie’s poster dunk vs Fairleigh Dickinson, Perkins’ And-1 vs Florida State, Literally every Brandon Clarke thunderous dunk.