MORAGA, Calif. — After a tight scoring first half, No. 15 Saint Mary’s (4-0) broke free with an 18-2 run to put away San Jose State 81-64, their sixth straight win over the Spartans, in front of a packed house at McKeon Pavilion. Center Jock Landale helped power the Gaels with 24 points of his own on an excellent shooting night.
Landale began the night shooting 7 for 7 from the field as well as 6 for 6 from the charity stripe. He would finish the game shooting 9 for 10 from the field and 87% from the line. The ever-efficient big man is now shooting 75% from the field on the season and leads the team in scoring.
“It’s only because [my teammates] are finding me on open layups,” said Landale of his performance. “These guys are doing all the hard work, so credit to them.”
“He was our leading scorer per minute last year, and he’s getting more minutes now – he has a bigger focus of what we’re doing,” stated Gaels head coach Randy Bennett on his center. “It’s really fun to see to see a guy gain confidence like that, and improve.”
The Gaels eventually opened the floodgates on the Spartans (1-3) just over five minutes into the second half with an 18-2 run to create a comfy 19 point cushion, culminating with a Landale slam dunk. Stefan Gonzalez came off the bench and hit back-to-back three pointers for Saint Mary’s to help fuel the run and finished the night with seven points. Gonzalez and the Gaels would convert 6 of 14 from three in the second half as a team.
From that point on, Saint Mary’s lead never shrunk under 12 points.
Guard Emmett Naar chipped in with 16 points and four assists in the win and Calvin Hermanson matched his 16 point performance in the previous game at Dayton with 6 for 10 shooting including 4 for 7 (57%) from behind the arc.
The Gaels played a much stronger defensive second half, limiting the Spartans to 24 points and surrendering just one shot at the free throw line. Saint Mary’s recorded seven blocks on the night and senior guard Joe Rahon picked up a career-high with three rejections.
Saint Mary’s will travel to Las Vegas for their next match in a neutral site game against the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Tickets for the game can be purchased by clicking here. Additionally, the game will be broadcast on TuneIn Radio by Alex Jensen.
“I know they’re good,” said Bennett when asked about UAB. “They were good last year and they returned a lot of those guys.”
San Jose State was led on offense by sophomores Jaycee Hillsman and Ryan Welage. Hillsman notched 16 points and six rebounds in 30 minutes of play while Welage shot 7 for 15 from the field on route to a 17 point night.
Despite trailing for over 15 minutes in the first half, the Spartans kept the game within reach and never trailed by more than eight points. The team was aided by 91% shooting from the free throw line, including a spotless 7 for 7 performance from Hillsman.
Saint Mary’s is yet to be outshot in either field goal or three point field goal percentage on the year. On average, the Gaels have outscored their opposition by over 19 points.
Saint Mary’s was efficient down low to begin the game, converting their first 10 two-point field goal attempts. Emmett Naar and Jock Landale were both perfect in the first half, shooting 4 for 4 from the field, with Landale adding on by nailing all four of his free throws attempts.
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