SAN FRANCISCO – Well, it had to end eventually.
The Saint Mary's men's basketball program brought a series-long 17-game win streak over San Francisco into War Memorial Gym on Thursday. But, a cold shooting night and a motivated Dons team came away with a 73-62 victory.
Junior forward Brad Waldow registered his ninth double-double of the season with a team-high 15 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Gaels. Saint Mary's falls to 19-9 on the season and 9-6 in the West Coast Conference. USF improved to 17-10 overall and10-5 in league play.
The Gaels return to action Saturday in a 1 p.m. contest at longtime South Bay rival Santa Clara at the Leavey Center. The game will be televised live as the WCC Game of the Week on Comcast SportsNet, Time Warner Cable Sportsnet, ROOT Sports Northwest and Rocky Mountain and TheW.tv.
The Gaels shot just 39.7 percent from the field and 19.6 from behind the 3-point arc, the third-lowest percentage of the year from that distance. USF went 50 percent from the field and 7-of-14 from long distance.
"I don't think we competed hard enough and we didn't make shots," said SMC head coach Randy Bennett after the game. "There is a lot of balance in this league right now and when you go on the road, you have to play better. We just don't have enough guys playing well right now."
USF stretched its 10-point halftime lead to as much as 16 in the second half before the Gaels started to claw its way back into the game - largely with several starters on the bench.
Junior Garrett Jackson made a major impact on the game in the second period and scored a SMC career-best 13 points to go with seven rebounds, while reserve Eividas Petrulis added six second-half points. Guard Paul McCoy also scored six points off the bench.
"I thought Paul and Garrett came in and really helped us," said Bennett. "Eividas was a positive, too. We brought him in because he can shoot the ball well and he's been doing that in practice. Today, he hit a couple of shots. Garrett has been playing well lately and showed that today. Paul is a good competitor and he got enough minutes to get loose and show his athleticism."
Saint Mary’s found the War Memorial Gym rims unforgiving in the first half, shooting just 32.1 percent from the field and going 3-of-16 from behind the 3-point arc.
After leading early, the Gaels went up by four points at 12-8 on a James Walker III 3-point field goal just more than 5 minutes into the game. The Dons, however, found their shooting touch just as SMC went cold. USF went on a 16-2 run over a six minute period.
After USF went up 26-14 with 7:27 left on the clock, sophomore Jordan Giusti nailed a 3-pointer to stop the run and get the Dons’ lead back under double digits. A minute later, Cole Dickerson made a 3-pointer to put USF back up 12 points at 29-17.
Holt and Waldow combined for a quick 6-0 SMC run to bring the Gaels back to within six points with 2:10 left. But, a pair of free throws by Matt Glover and a basket by Tollefsen gave the Dons a 33-23 halftime lead.
With his first basket of the game, Holt surpassed Paul Marigney (2000-05) for 15th on the school's career scoring list, then converted a 3-point play a few minutes later to tie Maurice Harper (1971-75). He ended the night with 1,232 points and is just two shy of 2011 WCC Player of the Year Mickey McConnell for 13th.