DALLAS — With his SMU team ineligible for the postseason, a February visit from Gonzaga figured to be the closest thing to an NCAA Tournament game Nic Moore could expect to experience this year.
Then the Mustangs lost at home to Tulsa, and the game with the Zags turned into something else.
“We all gathered around and said, `We don’t lose twice on our home court,” said Moore, the former star guard from WCHS.
The 5-foot-9 senior guard scored 25 points with 11 assists to lead No. 16 SMU to a 69-60 victory that snapped Gonzaga’s six-game winning streak in a non-conference matchup of league leaders Saturday night.
Moore put the Mustangs (21-3) ahead for good with a jumper, breaking a 46-all tie and starting a run of him scoring or assisting on six straight baskets. He added two free throws to push the lead to 61-52.
Gonzaga (20-6) might have missed a chance to rejoin the Top 25 and send SMU tumbling out, with the Mustangs coming off their first home loss of the season.
Dominates Sabonis had 20 points and 16 rebounds in just the second loss in nine road games for the Zags, who played the last of four straight away from home. Kyle Wiltjer, the No. 11 scorer in Division I, had a season-low four points on 2-of-17 shooting.
“Threw them into a ton of adversity, much of which was done with just this crazy schedule, traveling across the country,” said coach Mark Few, who is trying to guide the West Coast Conference leaders to the NCAAs for the 18th straight season. “This is a really difficult place, and this is a really good team.”
Ben Moore scored 16 points for the Mustangs, including an alley-oop dunk from Shake Milton for the first basket of the game. Jordan Tolbert also had an alley-oop slam on an assist from Nic Moore during the decisive run and finished with nine points and eight rebounds.
After his go-ahead jumper, Nic Moore ended up with the loose ball on a rebound and started up the floor, lofting a pass to Ben Moore in transition for a reverse layup and a 50-46 lead.
The alley-oop slam by Tolbert was followed up by an easy layup for Markus Kennedy on another nifty pass from Nic Moore, who then scored seven straight SMU points.
Nic Moore had 27 points in the loss to Tulsa on Wednesday that left SMU a half-game up on Temple in the American Athletic Conference. He was hard to stop again in a late-night start for TV.
“It was neat watching Nic tonight in this kind of environment,” SMU coach Larry Brown said. “It makes you feel pretty darn good because he’s come a long way.”
Wiltjer missed three straight long jumpers — two from beyond the arc — off three consecutive offensive rebounds in the first half. He was 1 of 14 before hitting a running bank shot similar to his first basket for a 44-40 Gonzaga lead with 11:50 remaining.