MORAGA, Calif. — On Thursday, No. 12 Saint Mary’s (6-1) returned from a full week off with a perfect record, but they couldn’t quite find their groove as the UTA Mavericks (8-3) handed them their first loss of the season, 65-51 at McKeon Pavilion.
It was an uncharacteristic display of carelessness for the Gaels, who headed into this Thursday night averaging just nine turnovers per game. The two teams recorded a combined 31 turnovers, with 19 in the first half alone.
“We were outplayed, pretty simple,” said head coach Randy Bennett.” “They beat us at every phase. They’re a good team and going into that game I knew they were a good team.”
“We needed to play well to beat them and we did not play well. A team like that can beat you if you don’t play one of your better games.”
It became a battle of who could capitalize on the opponents’ mistakes. From the 16 turnovers committed by SMC, UTA cashed in 23 points compared to Gaels’ 11 points off of the Mavericks’ 15 turnovers.
SMC big man Jock Landale, led the Gaels with 14 points over 29 minutes. He snagged seven rebounds and added three blocks to match his single-game high – all three came in the first half. Guard Joe Rahon contributed a team high eight rebounds and an equal amount of points in his 40 minutes of play, marking his fifth complete game this season.
Stefan Gonzales came off the bench and sank a three from about four feet beyond the arc as the shot clock was winding down to start an 11-2 run with 11 minutes remaining in the game. And when Rahon and Landale converted on their next two free throw shots, the Gaels cut the Maverick’s lead down to 13.
For the Mavericks, Erick Neal, Kevin Hervey and Kaelon Wilson all posted double digit points – led by Hervey’s 15.
“I think they are well coached, I think those kids play hard, and they’re a good team,” said Bennett. “They’re one of the best teams we’ve played. They’re in that category of Dayton and Stanford.”
The Mavericks’ Drew Charles tallied his team’s fifth three pointer of the night with just over seven minutes remaining, and in a last effort, Hermanson answered right back with his first and the Gaels seventh.
But the lead remained in double digits. And it would stay there for the rest of regulation.
The Gaels will play their next game at home against UC Irvine on Sunday, December 11th at 5 p.m. 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). Viewers can also catch the action live through Gael Vision and on the TuneIn app.
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