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Sports Top-ranked Gonzaga avoids first loss of the season with an epic last-second game-winner

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The Bulldogs are one of just 11 teams in men's college basketball that remain undefeated this season, and they have done so without their best player.

Rui Hachimura Gonzaga play

Rui Hachimura Gonzaga

(AP Photo/Young Kwak)

  • The Gonzaga Bulldogs leaped to No. 1 in the AP Top 25 Poll after taking down the mighty Duke Blue Devils at the Maui Invitational tournament November 21.
  • The undefeated Bulldogs have been cruising ever since, notching double-digit wins against the North Dakota State Bison and the Creighton Bluejays before hosting the Washington Huskies on Wednesday night.
  • Gonzaga had an eight-point lead with just over two minutes to play, but the Huskies stormed back and tied the game with 10 seconds left.
  • Bulldogs star forward Rui Hachimura knocked down an exhilarating jumper with 0.6 seconds remaining that put Gonzaga ahead by two and preserved the team's perfect season.

Ever since Gonzaga took down the mighty Duke Blue Devils at the Maui Invitational tournament on November 21, the No. 1 Bulldogs have been the kings of college basketball.

But the Washington Huskies challenged the throne Wednesday night, nearly forcing overtime if not for star forward Rui Hachimura's late-game heroics.

Gonzaga had stomped out the Texas A&M Aggies, the Illinois Fighting Illini, and the Arizona Wildcats heading into its season-defining victory against coach Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils. After arriving home from Hawaii, the Bulldogs notched a 38-point rout of the North Dakota State Bison before securing a tough road win against the Creighton Bluejays on Saturday.

It was clear from the opening tip that Washington would not go down without a fight, but the Bulldogs still carried a 10-point lead heading into halftime and held on to an eight-point advantage with just over two minutes to play. That was when the Huskies stormed back, however, and they eventually tied the game with 10 seconds left.

Cue Hachimura.

Gonzaga point guard Josh Perkins ran a couple of seconds off the clock by bringing the ball up the court and dribbling around the perimeter but found Hachimura just inside the free-throw line with his back to the basket and three seconds to go. The Toyama, Japan, native caught the ball in the air and twisted toward the basket before he landed. With four Washington players closing in on him, Hachimura rose up through traffic and sank the clutch jumper with just 0.6 seconds on the clock.

"It was crazy," Hachimura told NCAA.com's Andy Katz. "My teammates and coaches trust me, and Josh passed me the ball, so I was like, 'OK, I have to make it,' and I shot."

Hachimura finished the game with 26 points and seven rebounds, leading his team out of a very close call. The Bulldogs will hope to carry that momentum into numerous tough coming contests. Gonzaga is scheduled to travel to Phoenix for a neutral-site contest against the No. 7 Tennessee Volunteers on Sunday afternoon before heading to the Tar Heel State to take on No. 14 North Carolina at the Dean Smith Center less than a week later.

The Bulldogs are one of just 11 teams in men's college basketball that remain undefeated this season. If they can continue that level of dominance through a very challenging stretch of games with their star Killian Tillie benched with an ankle injury for the first two months of the season, coach Mark Few's squad will undoubtedly be a force to be reckoned with come March.

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