MORAGA, Calif. - The Saint Mary's women's basketball team remained tied atop the West Coast Conference standings with a hard fought 56-43 win over Pepperdine on Saturday afternoon in McKeon Pavilion. Jasmine Smith had a game-high 19 points while Jackie Nared added a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Gaels.
With the win, Saint Mary's improves to 15-5, 6-1 WCC, while Pepperdine drops to 10-9, 5-3 WCC. The Gaels overcame 26 turnovers by outrebounding the Waves 45-32 and converting 21-for-28 from the free-throw line.
The Gaels held the Waves to 29 percent shooting for the game, including 1-for-16 from three-point land and 6-for-10 from the charity stripe. SMC forced Pepperdine into 16 turnovers.
With the Gaels leading 16-14 with 6:55 remaining in the first-half, SMC went on an 11-2 run after Nared converted to lead 27-15 with 1:09 left. Pepperdine scored before halftime as the Gaels led 27-17 at the break.
The Waves started quickly in the second half, scoring the first three baskets and trimming the lead down to 27-23 at the 18:25 mark. Later, the Waves came within 33-31 with 10:46 remaining and had opportunities to tie or even take the lead.
Leading 37-32, Saint Mary's would score three consecutive baskets and take a 43-33 lead with 6:28 remaining. Pepperdine closed within five points at 43-38, but that would be as close as the Waves would come.
Saint Mary's converted 12 of its last 13 free-throws down the stretch to ice the game at 56-43. Smith finished 8-of-9 from the line while Nared converted 7-of-8 from the stripe.
Pepperdine was led by Jazmine Jackson with 14 points and five steals, while Lauren Bell had a game-high 12 assists and four points. Skye Barnett had 10 points and five rebounds.
In addition to Smith and Nared, the Gaels had plenty of help as Danielle Mauldin finished with eight points and 10 rebounds while Alex Carbonel chipped in with seven points. Morgan Hatten had five points off the bench.
The win gets the Gaels off to a good start in a difficult stretch of four games in eight days. Saint Mary's is back in action on Monday night when it travels to San Francisco at 7:00 p.m. SMC returns to the court on Thursday and Saturday to host Santa Clara and Gonzaga, respectively.