SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. -- The last time the Saint Mary's men's basketball team took the floor at War Memorial Gymnasium, the Gaels clinched an outright West Coast Conference title with a win over San Francisco.
Wednesday's 67-63 victory on the Hilltop didn't carry that sort of immediate impact, but it did give Saint Mary's something that is always at a premium in conference play -- a quality road win against a more than game foe.
Jorden Page led Saint Mary's (18-4, 7-1) with 19 in the Gaels' 16th straight win over the Dons. Brad Waldow added 13 in the win.
Cody Doolin scored 16 for San Francisco (9-13, 2-7).
Some shaky foul shooting by the Gaels let San Francisco back into the game late, and a 3-pointer by De'End Parker with 16.1 seconds left made it 63-60 Saint Mary's.
A layup by James Walker III pushed the lead to five, but again San Francisco countered as Tim Derksen converted a three-point play to make it 65-63 with 6.1 left.
Matthew Dellavedova's long distance pass found a leaping Page though, and after he was fouled, Page made two free throws to ice the win.
"It's hard to win on the road. We played well. The last five or six minutes, we didn't defend as well as we needed to," Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said. "You're going to miss free throws, you're going to miss shots but you can't give them easy baskets. Credit them. I knew they would (come back). I told our team at halftime, we were up 14 but I've seen them in this situation and they always get back in the game."
The victory had a few key characteristics that mirrored the way the Gaels have played of late.
One came on the glass. Already the WCC leader in rebounding margin, Saint Mary's outrebounded San Francisco by a staggering 44-22 margin. Holt put up numbers that might cause people to think he's a forward instead of a guard, grabbing a career-high 14 boards to lead the way.
That advantage opened up all kinds of opportunities for Saint Mary's offensively, not the least of which was room for Page to catch fire on the perimeter.
The junior from Maroochydore, Queensland, Australia enjoyed his best game since putting up a career-high 26 at Northern Iowa on Dec. 23.
The Gaels turned the offense on late in the first half to get a little separation. A 3-pointer by Holt, runner by Dellavedova and two free throws by Brad Waldow capped an 11-0 run, making it 30-16 Saint Mary's with 3:42 left in the half.
The Dons stemmed the tide for a brief moment, but the lead remained squarely on Saint Mary's side as the Gaels went to the locker room with a 37-23 lead.
Scoring was at a premium to begin the second half for either team. Saint Mary's missed its first five shots, but San Francisco couldn't capitalize and make up ground on the scoreboard.
Eventually, both teams got started, but traded both baskets and free throws for the first 10 minutes of the half.
San Francisco cut into the lead with just over four minutes left, as a 3-point play by De'End Parker made it 59-51 with 4:04 left.
Again, Page had the answer. With the shot clock winding down, he created separation on the left wing and nailed a 3-pointer to push the lead back to double digits with 3:33 left.
"He's been doing it in practice. He played really well Monday in practice, and he's been coming on," Bennett said. "I told him yesterday, let's go, let's get on a roll. That's what he did last year at the conference tournament."
Saint Mary's returns to the hardwood on Saturday when Portland visits McKeon Pavilion for a 4:30 p.m. tip-off. Tickets are available by clicking the Tickets link on SMCGaels.com, or by calling the SMC Athletic Ticket Office at (925) 631-GoTx. The game will also be televised live by Comcast SportsNet California.