SAN DIEGO, Calif. — In the second matchup of the season versus San Diego, No. 18 Saint Mary’s (21-2, 11-1 WCC) routed the Toreros (11-13, 4-8 WCC)out of Jenny Craig Pavilion with efficient offense and stifling defense, 71-27.
The win gives head coach Randy Bennett 165 wins in West Coast Conference action, which ties him for second most with longtime Santa Clara head coach Carroll Williams.
The Gaels went 26-for-51 (51 percent) in the game, and an impressive 56 percent from the floor in the second half. SMC was led by 14 points apiece from Calvin Hermanson and Jock Landale. Hermanson started the game hot, nailing 3-of-5 from three-point land. Along with another double-digit scoring night, Landale collected six boards in just 22 minutes of action.
Joe Rahon notched another complete game in front his family and friends, as the senior collected seven points, six rebounds and five assists. Also a San Diego native, Evan Fitzner totaled seven points and four boards.
Olin Carter III led the Toreros with 11 points on just 3-of-10 from the floor. USD finished the game shooting 19.6 percent (9-for-46 FG). USD was able to convert just 6-of-26 from beyond the arc.
The first half was all Gaels, as Saint Mary’s displayed superb ball movement and the top-notch defense that has allowed an average of just 57.9 points per game.
Leading 17-7 at the 9:35 mark of the first half, SMC went on a 10-0 run which began with a Hermanson three-pointer from the elbow. Naar and Landale converted back-to-back finishes in the paint, as San Diego native Rahon converted a corner trey to give the Gaels the 27-7 advantage.
Second in the nation in opponents points per game, SMC suffocated the Toreros in the first half. USD shot just 3-for-25 FG (12 percent) in the opening half, and went an 8:13 stretch of being held scoreless. The defensive gem was the second time in the season the Gaels held an opponent to nine points, as the first was several weeks ago at Portland.
SMC was led by Hermanson’s 12 points, as the 6-6 wing went 4-for-7 from the floor and 3-for-5 from beyond the arc. The Gaels shot 46 percent in the opening half and held an 8-2 advantage in assists.
Saint Mary’s did not miss a beat in the second half, opening the half on a 9-0 run for the 43-9 lead. SMC eventually blew up the lead to 40 points at the 12:05 mark, as Rahon delivered a nifty finish at the basket.
The team’s bench got a healthy amount of minutes with about 11 minutes to go, and continued the team’s defensive success. In the second half, the Gaels shot 56.5 percent, while holding USD to just 28.6 percent. The bench expanded the lead to as much as 44 at the 6:54 mark, as Jordan Ford drilled a three-pointer for the 59-15 lead.
For the game, the Gaels held a 43-23 edge on the glass, and 24-4 advantage in points in the paint.
Saint Mary’s returns home for a big week ahead. First, the Gaels will host Portland on Thursday night, Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. The game will be made available on TheW.tv and on SMCGaels.com. For tickets, visit the tickets link on SMCGaels.com or by calling the SMC Athletic Ticket Office during weekday business hours at (925) 631-GoTx (4689).
Saturday, Feb. 11 will be on the national spotlight, as the Gaels will host longtime WCC rival and No. 1 Gonzaga on ESPN. The game has been moved to the primetime slot of 5:15 p.m. and will host the ESPN College GameDay Show presented by State Farm. For more information on times, and a complete schedule leading up to Saturday night, fans can read here for the release.
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