LAS VEGAS — One week off from its last competition, No. 20 Saint Mary’s (27-3) opened the game sluggish, but the slow start faded away as the Gaels outlasted Portland in the quarterfinals of the 2017 West Coast Conference Championships, 81-58.
Jock Landale collected his 14th double-double of the season after powering his way to 19 points and 12 rebounds. Calvin Hermanson led the Gaels with 21 points (8-for-15 FG) and 5-for-10 from beyond the arc. Emmett Naar was the maéstro for the Gaels offense, tying a career-high 11 assists in the match.
Saint Mary’s shot 57 percent from the field, the 18th time this season the team has eclipsed the 50 percent mark on offense. The size advantage for the Gaels proved to be key, as the team outrebounded the Pilots, 38-23. SMC got an all-around effort from the team, recording 29 bench points.
The Pilots went cold, converting just 38 percent (21-for-55 FG) from the floor. Guard Jazz Johnson poured in 26 points to lead Portland, as no other Pilot scored in double figures.
Up next for the Gaels is a semifinal match versus BYU. The Cougars defeated sixth seed LMU earlier today, 89-81. SMC swept the Cougars in the regular season matches this year. The contest can be seen live on Monday at 8:30 p.m. PT on ESPN2 or listened through TuneIn radio app.
Leading 38-29 in the second half, Hermanson notched his third trey of the game to jump the Gaels to a 41-29 lead. SMC and the Pilots would exchange buckets as the Gaels would hold onto a 10-point lead until 13:21 to go.
The Pilots would continue to claw back, getting to as close as six points with 10:35 to go. Saint Mary’s would shut down any potential comeback, as the Hermanson would drill his fourth and fifth treys of the game for the 55-43 lead.
At the 7:30 mark, Naar would deliver another one of his trademark drives and finds as he found Landale for the and-1 and the 61-46 lead.
Aside from Hermanson, Tanner Krebs would find his range come the second half, as the 6-6 Aussie delivered three straight treys for the Gaels to extend the lead, 67-51, and surely secure the ticket into the semifinals.
The Gaels opened slowly, falling behind as much as 8-2 in the opening five minutes of the quarterfinal. The sluggish start would only be short-lived, as SMC would go on a 14-2 run over a 3:18 span to take a 16-10 lead.
In the run, Hermanson knocked down back-to-back treys and found Dane Pineau on a beautiful cut for an easy two points. Rahon then found Landale on a nifty pass inside the Pilots’ defense for the easy two-hand jam.
SMC would keep its fire, extending the lead to as much as 10 at the 5:53 mark after Rahon drilled his first three-pointer of the game. The Pilots would finish the half strong with a 6-0 run in the last 1:53 to trim the Gaels lead to 32-27 into the locker rooms.
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