By: Trey Hannula
SMC Athletic Communications
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — No. 21 Saint Mary’s played to their strengths Saturday night as stingy defense, superb three point shooting, and free throw efficiency lifted the Gaels to a 72-59 road win over Santa Clara (12-11, 6-4 WCC).
Jock Landale notched his team-leading ninth double-double on the season with a 20 point, 11 rebound performance. Landale, who leads the West Coast Conference in field goal percentage, shot 9-of-16 from the field in 30 minutes of play. Tonight’s performance denoted the 7th time this year Landale has eclipsed the 20+ point mark and the 6-11 Australian has reached double figures in all but one game this season.
"Jock was really good offensively,” said Gaels’ head coach Randy Bennett. “He was great, put us in a position to win.”
Emmett Naar nearly recorded his second double-double this season as he added 15 points and nine assists in the win. Calvin Hermanson chipped in 13 points, representing the Gaels’ third shooter in double-digits on the night.
Saint Mary’s (19-2, 9-1 WCC) held Santa Clara to 43.4 percent shooting during the game including just 27.3 percent from three point range. The Gaels outrebounded the Broncos 31-20 on the night and pulled down 25 defensive rebounds in the win.
Always strong from three point land, the Gaels shot 8-for-16 from behind the arc against the Broncos’ defense. At the charity stripe, Gaels’ shooters displayed ice in their veins, going 16-for-20. Saint Mary’s currently leads the WCC in three point percentage at 40.1 percent and free throw percentage at 75.8 percent.
The Gaels’ 19-2 start is their best start since the 2011-12 season when the team opened the year 22-2. That team, led by Gaels’ legend Matthew Dellavedova, made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament before being edged 54-52 to then-No. 19 Memphis.
"We played well tonight,” said Bennett. “Played well against USF and played well against Pepperdine. I think we are getting better.”
Saint Mary’s will play their next game on the road versus Pacific on Feb. 2 at 8 p.m. The Gaels will look to sweep the Tigers in conference play after defeating them earlier this season in Moraga, 62-50. You can catch the game on ESPNU or listen live with Alex Jensen on TuneIn Radio.
Senior Nate Kratch led the Broncos in scoring and rebounds with 19 points and seven boards while Jared Brownridge tallied 13 points for Santa Clara. Sophomore guard KJ Feagin also had a solid for the Broncos recording 11 points, six rebounds, and eight assists.
Saint Mary’s pulled away from Santa Clara just over four minutes into first half with a 16-0 run. The Gaels’ led by as much as 15 during the half but Santa Clara would go into the halftime break on an 11-5 run to cut the deficit to five. Landale notched 14 points in the opening half and Naar recorded six dimes as the Gaels shot 58 percent as a team.
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