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'It's all heart': Quentin Hall barely stood 5-8, but proved giant in Gonzaga's 1999 NCAA tournament run that finally ended against UConn

Jan. 4—Editor's note: This is the final installment of a six-part look back at Gonzaga's wild run to the Elite Eight during the 1998-99 season. Read the previous installments at spokesman.com/zags.

In any discussion of an athlete's will to win and refusal to give up, the name Quentin Hall must be highly ranked.

All the way to the final seconds of his final game as a Gonzaga Bulldog, the 1999 West Regional finals, Hall believed he could somehow pull out a victory for the Zags against eventual national champion Connecticut.

When he was whistled for his fifth foul with 6.2 seconds remaining, Hall essentially had to be removed from the floor. He immediately raced to the scorer's table to demand a recount.

Despite his protest, he was disqualified, and UConn stretched out the margin to the final of 67-62. He led the Zags in points (18) and rebounds (eight) and inspiration. Trash-talk and physical harassment were not recognized as official statistics back then.

The 5-foot-8 Bahamian point guard had reason to believe he could alter the course of the game. In the game's final 7 minutes, he scored 13 of GU's 15 points.

With 35 seconds left, the Zags down four, he got 6-foot-6, future NBA All-Star Rip Hamilton to leave his feet on a ball fake, to open space for the 3-pointer that closed the gap to a slender point.

That final 3-pointer was described in a column as a "double-clutched, side-armed improvisational masterpiece. All net."

It wasn't just Hall's offense that played a crucial role. On defense, he dogged former McDonald's All-American point guard Khalid El-Amin into 0-for-12 shooting and just five points.

In the era when the Zags wore comically baggy and long shorts, with a Bulldogs logo the size of a dinner plate on the thigh, Hall looked shorter than his listed 5-8.

"They say he's 5-8, but he's really probably about 5-6," teammate Casey Calvary said after the game. "But it's all heart. He's incredible; he just wants to win more than anybody he plays against."

Previous installments

'Huge victory for us': Matt Santangelo's 1998 game-winner helped Gonzaga escape momentum killer against lowly Texas-Pan American

Retrospective analyses of historic athletic seasons mostly focus on the big wins and the headline upsets. But, successful seasons being the progressive accumulation of momentum and win-fueled confidence, sometimes it is the heart-stopping escapes against lesser opponents that are every bit as important — but so often forgotten over time. — Read more

Zags do their homework: Gonzaga needed a little magic to pull off first-round win over scandal-embroiled Minnesota

Editor's note: This is the third of a six-part look back at Gonzaga's wild run to the Elite Eight during the 1998-99 season. — Read more

'My role is to go in and beat the hell out of somebody': The day that willowy Mark Spink and Gonzaga took down Mad Dog and Stanford

In the excitement after beating Minnesota for Gonzaga's first NCAA Tournament victory in March, 1999, coach Dan Monson told reporters that the win "validifies" the Zag program. It was the subsequent 82-74 upset of No. 2-seeded Stanford in the second round that truly legitimized the Zags' abilities and amplified their potential — all in 40 minutes of unexpected legitification. — Read more

'The Ogre': In wild 1999 win, Casey Calvary roughed up Florida, then came up with the go-ahead tip-in that sent Gonzaga to the Elite Eight

For those returning to Spokane this week for an event to recognize the 25th anniversary of the Zags' 1999 Elite Eight run, the phrase "tip-in" needs no further elaboration. — Read more

It took Hall awhile to get to GU, so he was intent on making the most of it. Coach Mark Few traveled to the Caribbean to recruit him, and showed up at a sweltering blacktop court fully kitted in suit and tie.

But Few couldn't get him directly into GU and steered him to North Idaho College. He later moved on to Yakima Valley College, where he had no scholarship, and worked as a dormitory janitor to earn his way.

Head coach Dan Monson knew that Hall was worth the wait. "He is, in my 11 years at Gonzaga, the best competitor we've ever had," Monson said. "Quentin Hall has as much 'winner' in him as any kid I've ever seen."

UConn came into that game as the West Region No. 1 seed. GU was No. 10.

That El-Amin was so highly regarded only made the challenge more personal for Hall.

"I came in with every intent to outplay him," Hall said after the game. "No matter who it was, El-Amin, whoever, I wanted to outplay him."

He did, but it wasn't quite enough.

"I want to be remembered as a winner," Hall said. "As somebody who always gave all he had and never gave up."

Even if they have to drag him off the court.