Things were looking a little bleak for Saint Mary’s fans at their home arena Tuesday night – and then senior point guard Stephen Holt stepped up to provide the inspiration for a dream comeback victory.
St. Mary’s was watching their season slip from their fingers as Utah beat up on them for the first half hour of play at McKeon Pavilion, the Utes running at will and the Gaels unable to answer in their NIT meeting. It looked bad – until Stephen Holt decided to take matters into his own hands.
Recalling the nightmare that was the Gael’s Senior Night performance against Gonzaga (a 75-47 thumping at McKeon), Coach Randy Bennett noted afterward that most teams don’t often get a “re-do.” Last night, thanks to Holt, they did.
Frankly outplayed most of the evening, the Gaels were energized by Holt’s heroics late in the game, pulling his team to within shooting distance of the Utes and breathing new life into the crowd, which was beginning to ponder the walk back to the parking lot. Holt’s inspirational play got him into foul trouble and a spot on the bench where he chewed through a gym towel and his teammates had a little talk with the Gaels down by three.
Senior guard James Walker III said the Gaels dedicated their last five minutes of play to Holt, things came together and yeehaw, the Gaels played some basketball, putting together a 13-point run – their first real scoring flurry of the night – as the clock ticked down.
Senior Kerry Carter sank a three for his first points of the night to make it 50-50, turned a steal into a layup as the Utes tried to inbound the ball and gave the Gaels a 52-50 lead with four minutes remaining. Walker chipped in a pair of free throws and senior forward Beau Levesque (who had been quiet for most of the evening) plugged a pair of three-pointers. Carter sealed the deal and the Gaels were up 60-50 with two minutes to go as an emotional Holt chewed that poor towel into a pile of lint and the scoreboard, unbelievably, ticked over to a final 70-58 win for the Gaels in a big night for basketball in Moraga.