Hoops & Homers: Wrapping up the 2021 Spring Season

photo montage of sports teams celebrating

June 16, 2021
Dale Goodwin ('86)

Despite the curveball COVID-19 threw at intercollegiate sports this past year, Gonzaga student-athletes and coaches made the best of a beastly pandemic. Here are some highlights.  



Six members named WCC Coach of the Year: Chris Watkins, women’s soccer, Mark Few, men’s basketball; Mark Machtolf, baseball; Brad Rickel, women’s golf; Pat Tyson, men’s cross country; Andrew Derrick, women’s rowing


WCC Pitcher of the Year Alek Jacob threw a no-hitter at Pepperdine; team won WCC title, earned No. 2 seed at NCAAs


First time competing in NCAA championships


Team captured sixth-straight WCC title and NCAA Tournament berth; 19th league title overall


Won its first WCC team championship


Seven Zags competed at the 2021 NCAA West Preliminary Round; James Mwaura advancing to the men’s 5,000 and 10,000-meter national finals


-First time two Zags named All-American in a season; Jill Townsend, Jenn Wirth both honorable mention

-Who can forget Townsend’s WCC Tournament Championship buzzer-beater

-Ranked the entire season, topping out at No. 13

-GU’s highest NCAA tournament seed, No. 5

Which brings us to men’s basketball. While it’s impossible to capture in this space all the highlights this group crafted in 2020-21, here are a few:

-Top of the list: Jalen Suggs’ 40-foot buzzer-beater over UCLA in the national semifinals, moving GU into its second national championship game in four years

-Joel Ayayi’s program-first triple double (12 points, 13 rebounds, 14 assists) at Portland

-TV commentators’ constant conversation about Timme’s handlebar stache

-Corey Kispert’s return for his senior season, and steadying influence

-Fifth Elite Eight, fourth in last six tournaments

-Sixth straight Sweet 16, nation’s longest active streak

-22 straight NCAA Tournaments

-Only NCAA Division I team in history to have five straight 30-win seasons (14 straight 25-win seasons, 24 straight 20-win seasons)

-Ranked first in every AP poll this season; Zags’ first top overall seed in NCAA tournament

-Led the nation in scoring offense, field goal percentage, two-point percentage, scoring margin and points in the paint

-Mark Few named Naismith and NABC national Coach of the Year

-See you in November back in The Kennel