STOCKTON, Calif. — The Saint Mary’s women’s basketball team shut down all of first-place Pacific’s strengths on the road Thursday, leading nearly the entire game to earn a hard-fought 63-54 West Coast Conference victory at the Alex G. Spanos Center.
The Gaels (9-9, 4-3 WCC) limited the WCC’s best 3-point shooting team to just 26.7 percent (8 for 30) from beyond the arc. SMC only sent Pacific (8-10, 4-3 WCC) to the free-throw line seven times, limiting opportunities for the conference’s top free-throw shooting team. And Pacific’s conference-leading 75.1 points per game was limited to just 54 points on 29.7 percent shooting.
The Gaels took advantage of their opportunities at the charity stripe. SMC made more than 20 free throws for the fourth time this season and shot better than 70 percent (21 for 28, 75.0 percent) for the third straight game and fifth in its last six. Leading scorer Stella Beck was a perfect 8 for 8 in free throws with 14 points.
SMC took a 17-6 lead through one quarter but started the second cold. The Gaels started the period 1 for 3 from the floor with seven turnovers. They would commit nine total in the quarter and 20 for the game. Meanwhile, Pacific started the second on a 12-2 run that cut SMC’s 11-point lead to a one-point edge at 19-18.
That was the closest Pacific ever got the rest of the game. UOP’s only lead in the game was 2-0 26 seconds after the tip. Back-to-back layups by Megan McKay gave the Gaels a lead they would never surrender.
Pacific’s GeAnna Luaulu-Summers led all players with 22 points, including five 3-pointers. Jessica Blakeslee was the Tigers’ only other player with more than five, scoring six points off the bench. Saint Mary’s dominated the rebounding game, 44-29.
The Gaels shut Pacific out from downtown in the first quarter, holding them to 0 for 6. The long-range aim would slowly come back to the Tigers, going 2 for 6 in the second quarter and starting the third making two of their first three attempts. UOP’s 3-point shooting really showed up in the fourth quarter. The Tigers made four of their eight treys in the game in the final period alone.
But it wasn’t enough to catch the Gaels, who outshot Pacific 47.6 to 27.3 percent just in the second half. Devyn Galland scored nine points and had five rebounds in her first game since Jan. 7. McKay led all players with 13 rebounds. Devon Brookshire scored nine points and had five rebounds off the bench.
The Gaels continue their three-game WCC road trip at 1 p.m. Saturday at Pepperdine. The Waves were 73-47 losers at BYU on Thursday. The game will be streamed live on the Gaels’ “GaelVision” Gameday Central page.
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