MORAGA, Calif. — On Tuesday night at McKeon Pavilion, No. 19 Saint Mary’s (9-1) made a blowout interesting, but eventually prevailed, 67-46, over Texas A&M – Corpus Christi (7-3).
Their lead went from 15 points at the half, to five with 9:07 remaining in regulation, and then up to its highest point (21) by the time the final buzzer sounded. On a night where shooting percentage deviated from the average (41.8 percent), the Gaels demonstrated what defensive strength and dominating the glass can do for the outcome.
“I thought we did probably our best defensive effort of the year, so we did a great job there,” said head coach Randy Bennett. “We did really good on the boards. That enabled us to, on a tough shooting night, be able to hold them off.”
Saint Mary’s out-rebounded the Islanders 45 to 29, with 16 being offensive. SMC also forced 16 turnovers and put up 26 points in the paint compared to the Islanders’ 18.
Jock Landale continues to demonstrate his dominance by recording back-to-back double-doubles (three on the season), including a monster jam with 7:54 when his team was looking a little flat. He finished off the night with 15 points and 13 rebounds.
Calvin Hermanson, who led his team in scoring (19 points, 7-for-15), owned eight of the 12 on the run that brought the Gaels to end the first half up 33-18. Joe Rahon totaled 14 points, 6 assists and went 4-for-5 from beyond the arc.
“We feel pretty good, but we have things we need to work on,” said Hermanson. “It is kind of exciting about the start to the year, but there is an opportunity to get better."
The Islanders were able to string together an 11-2 run during the middle chunk of the second half. They rode the back of their leading scorer Rashawn Thomas, who collected nine of the run’s 11, bringing the Islanders to within seven, 42-35. Thomas finished the night with 22 points (8-for-20) and eight rebounds.
Rahon hit two crucial shots from three-point land. One to stop the Islanders strongest run of the night, and another after the Islanders pulled to within five points for the first time since the 6:37 mark of the first half.
“That’s kind of Joe. You don’t see him as a driller, but I tell you what, when the game is on the line, I like him shooting the ball,” said Bennett. “He’s got good confidence there – big shots, big plays. That’s just kind of Joe.”
He went on to collect another one, made possible by an offensive rebound, with just over three minutes remaining to extend their lead, 59-46.
Early in the first half, the Islanders were able to keep it close, largely due to a rare nine first half turnovers, but with just under five minutes remaining, the Gaels took flight – fueled by a Landale layup that sparked a 12-1 run.
Rahon dribbled hard into traffic with three minutes remaining in the first half, drawing defenders, and freeing up hot-handed Hermanson for a wide open look from the wing. He drained it, collecting his third three-pointer of the night, and put his team up 30-17.
The Gaels will play their next game at home against South Carolina State on Thursday, Dec. 22th at 7 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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