MORAGA, Calif. — Balance continued to be the story for the Saint Mary’s women’s basketball team Thursday as the Gaels extended their winning streak to five games with six double-figure scorers and a big second half surge in an 82-74 West Coast Conference victory over Pacific at McKeon Pavilion.
All five Saint Mary’s (13-9, 8-3 WCC) starters notched double-digit points. Devyn Galland and Sydney Raggio tied for the game high with 17 points. Shannon Mauldin scored 15, Carly Turner had 12 and Megan McKay added 10. Devon Brookshire chipped in 10 points with six rebounds off the bench. It was the fifth time in the last seven games Saint Mary’s has had at least three double-figure scorers.
“That’s been the talk of this team with (head) coach (Paul Thomas),” said Galland. “He keeps reiterating that we don’t have a Lauren Nicholson, a Jackie Nared and that everyone can contribute and really needs to step up.”
The Gaels scored 52 of their 82 points in the second half. They shot 32.3 percent before halftime but made 65.2 percent of their shots in the final two quarters. SMC has now won seven of its last eight games. The Gaels kept pace with first-place Gonzaga, who beat visiting BYU by 35 points Thursday, and now are alone in second place, one game behind the Bulldogs.
“I felt as though we needed to have balance tonight,” said Thomas. “We talked about going inside-out and I think we did that. We only took eight 3s which is a positive. We did a good job of getting to the free-throw line so that’s a positive thing, and thought we did an above-average job on the boards. Pretty pleased overall.”
The Gaels never outscored Pacific (8-14, 4-7 WCC) by more than four points in a quarter Thursday, but slowly pulled away thanks to a big performance at the free-throw line and on the glass. Saint Mary’s entered the game leading the WCC in free throws made and attempted. That prowess at the charity stripe was proved to the tune of 30 made free throws on 42 attempts.
Galland was a perfect 10 for 10, moving her to 86.5 percent for the year. Mauldin went 8 for 10 and Brookshire was 4 for 4 from the free-throw line. Meanwhile, SMC kept the WCC’s best free-throw shooting team (78.0 percent entering Thursday) off the free-throw line for most of the game. Pacific only shot four free throws in the first half and 17 for the game, going 8 for 17 (47.1 percent).
Raggio matched a career high with 15 rebounds to log her second double-double in as many games and third of the year. The Gaels grabbed 50 rebounds Thursday, their first time eclipsing the half-century mark after doing so six times last season. McKay had her seventh double-double of 2016-17 with 10 points and 10 boards. Samira McDonald, making her first appearance of the season coming off an injury, collected four boards and an assist.
Heading into halftime, the Gaels held a slim 30-28 advantage. Neither team had much success from the field in the first half with Saint Mary’s shooting 32.3 percent compared to 32.4 percent by Pacific. Raggio recorded 10 of her rebounds in the first half while McKay handled seven. The Gaels’ duo nearly outrebounded the entire Tigers team, which grabbed 19 in the half.
Saint Mary’s will play San Diego at home on Saturday for its next contest. The Gaels will look for revenge against the Toreros after dropping their earlier matchup this year on a San Diego buzzer-beating jumper. Tickets are available for the 1 p.m. matinee game on SMCGaels.com or by calling the SMC Tickets Office at (925) 631-GoTx. The game will also be live streamed on the Gaels’ Gameday Central page.
“Spirits are high,” said Galland about the Gaels’ current winning streak. “We’ve just got to keep encouraging each other, pushing each other in practice and keep this winning streak going. It’s going to be a big game on Saturday.”
“San Diego got us down there on a buzzer-beater. I think tonight was a very hard-fought game,” said Thomas. “You’ve got to revitalize and repair those bodies and get ready to go on Saturday afternoon.”
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