STOCKTON, Calif. — In the 117th meeting between the two programs, No. 18 Saint Mary’s (20-2, 10-1 WCC) outlasted the Pacific Tigers (8-16, 2-9 WCC) in an extremely physical battle at the Alex G. Spanos Center, 74-70.
The win marks the 10th straight year the Gaels have won at least 20 games in a season. This equals the program record for least amount of games needed to win 20 games (22 games, 2011-12 season).
Jock Landale collected his 10th double-double of the season with a 22 point and 12 rebound effort. Fellow Aussie Dane Pineau notched his second double-double of the season with a 12 point, 10 rebound performance. Guards Joe Rahon and Emmett Naar combined for 25 points and 14 assists on the night.
Despite the major cool off offensively, Saint Mary’s still shot 46 percent from the floor (24-for-52 FG). The Gaels held an 18-7 advantage in assists and a 37-33 edge on the boards.
The Tigers shot just 39 percent from the floor (24-for-61 FG) but second chance points and free-throw shooting kept the game close. Pacific collected 17 offensive boards, with 14 of those in the second half.
Guard T.J. Wallace paced the Tigers with 15 points. Sophomore forward Anthony Townes collected 15 points himself, shooting 50 percent (5-for-10 FG) from the floor.
Saint Mary’s will fly down to San Diego for Saturday’s contest. The Gaels will take on the Toreros in an earlier, 4 p.m. match as the WCC Game of the Week. Fans can view the game on CSN California or listen live on the Saint Mary’s IMG Network on TuneIn radio app.
The Gaels opened the second half with seven straight to jump out to an early 48-34 advantage. Landale got the run going with a lay-up, but Naar’s hustle gave SMC its largest lead of the game. The Aussie guard scored a corner trey, and followed the act with an impressive off-hand lay in.
SMC pulled away from the Tigers at the 16:05 mark off a Landale jumper increased the lead to 15 points. The Gaels would extend their lead to as much as 19 after another emphatic dunk by Landale.
At the 9:55 mark, Pacific pulled within nine points and ultimately went on a hot 11-0 run. The Tigers stretched it to a 16-2 run over a five minute period to trim the deficit to five points, 60-55. Pacific continued to push, cutting the Gaels’ lead to just three with 5:12 remaining.
SMC stretched its lead back to seven, 66-59 due to important free-throws from Naar and Pineau. A Rahon drive and finish at the rim ended an eight minute drought where the Gaels couldn’t convert a field-goal. The senior guard was also fouled on the play and converted the and-1 play for the 69-61 lead.
With 1:02 to go, Pineau came up with a big steal to cause the Tigers turnover. Naar hit his fifth free-throw of the game for the 71-65 lead. The Gaels eventually sealed the deal, making stops late in the game and converting 19-for-23 from the charity stripe.
In the early moments, the Gaels embarked on a thunderous 8-0 run which began with a powerful alley-oop from Naar to Landale. The authoritative act was followed by a smooth trey by Evan Fitzner and a corner three-ball by Rahon for the 11-7 lead.
Leading by as many as seven points, the Tigers clawed their way back to within one, 23-22. The Gaels quickly jumped back into a seven point lead after a beautiful back-door cut lay in from Calvin Hermanson. Fourth in conference three-pointers made, Hermanson knocked down a trey at the 5:59 mark for the 30-24 lead.
The Tigers refused to back down as the orange and black never trailed by more than 10 in the first half. The Gaels stayed efficient in the first half, shooting 50 percent (15-for-30 FG) and 5-for-11 from beyond the arc. SMC showed its size advantage on the glass, outrebounding the Tigers, 20-9 in the opening 20 minutes.
Pacific trailed 41-34 at the half due to its own hot shooting. The Tigers shot 52 percent from floor and converted 10 points off turnovers. The Tigers got major boost from the bench (14 points) due to starter Jacob Lampkin going down early with an injury.
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