LOS ANGELES — In the season’s conference opener, No. 19 Saint Mary’s (11-1, 1-0 WCC) used a balanced attack and stingy defense to defeat Loyola Marymount (7-5, 0-1 WCC) Thursday night at Gersten Pavilion, 72-60.
“Proud of our team tonight,” said Saint Mary’s head coach Randy Bennett. “It was a really good win on the road. We played well in some areas, but we have to do a better job taking care of the ball.”
Junior guard Emmett Naar made his mark on the Gaels record book, as he now sits fifth in all-time assists after posting a season-high 19 points and five assists. Jock Landale recorded his fourth straight double-double with another impressive performance with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Joe Rahon finished the game scoring 11 points, five rebounds and seven dimes while Calvin Hermanson shot 4-for-5 from the court to finish with 10 points and five boards.
Trevor Manuel led the Lions with 18 points on 5-of-9 from the floor. The defense shut down LMU leading scorer Brandon Brown to just 11 points on 4-for-18 shooting. The senior guard averaged 15.4 points per game heading into tonight’s match.
Saint Mary’s will return home to host visiting San Diego on Saturday, New Year’s Eve for a 6 p.m. tipoff. 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.
Leading the game 39-29 at the 17:06 mark, SMC went cold as the Lions marched on a 13-3 run to trim the Gaels lead to 42-41. Naar extended the lead after a corner three-pointer, followed by a strong finish at the basket by Landale.
After a Manuel three to trim the Gaels lead to 51-48, Hermanson answered right back to sustain the momentum with his lone three-pointer near the top of the key. SMC opened the lead back to double-digits at the 3:11 mark off an impressive Dane Pineau three with just two seconds remaining on the shot clock.
SMC hit seven of its last eight field-goals to finish the game and shot 57 percent for the game. The Gaels also found their range, hitting 50 percent of their three-point attempts (6-for-12).
Defense continued to be a focal point for the 19th ranked Gaels, as the team limited the Lions attack to an off shooting night. LMU ended the game shooting 36 percent on 59 field-goal attempts. The Gaels have now held three of their past four opponents to under 40 percent shooting.
“It was great to win our first conference game on the road,” said Landale. “Our toughness pulled us through tonight.”
After trailing by four eight minutes into the first half, the Gaels finished strong converting six of their last eight field-goals. SMC outscored the Lions, 24-13 in the final 11 minutes of the half, sparked by a Hermanson layup and a Naar three-pointer. Free-throws proved to be key in the strong finish, as the team converted all five free-throw attempts down the stretch for the 34-25 lead.
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