MBK | Big Second Half Fuels No. 21 Gaels' Win Over Aggies
Saint Mary's outscored New Mexico State by 13 in the second half to earn their second win of the season on Monday, 92-74.
MORAGA, Calif.— No. 21/22 Saint Mary's faced a stiff test Monday night versus defending WAC-Champion New Mexico State, but a strong defensive effort and hot second half led by senior Jock Landale gave the Gaels their second win of the new season, 92-74, over the Aggies.
HOW IT HAPPENED
New Mexico State started the game with sharp shooting, going 5-for-7 early and took a 12-11 lead four minutes into the first half. Landale put the Gaels back up with a dunk and Saint Mary's would later pull ahead 16-13.
Midway through the half, the Aggies caught fire with four straight field goals resulting in an 11-0 run that put their team up 29-21. Saint Mary's would not back down however and responded with a 7-1 run capped off with an Evan Fitzner three to make it a one possession game.
After trailing for a shade over five minutes, Emmett Naar put the Gaels back up with his fifth bucket of the half at 36-35. Naar led all scorers with 13 opening half points.
Saint Mary's found their rhythm towards the end of the opening period, making nine of their final 12 shots to take a 47-42 lead into the locker room. The Gaels dominated close to the basket as 26 of their 47 points came in the paint while also outrebounding the Aggies, 18-13.
Minutes into the second half, Saint Mary's senior trio of Naar, Landale, and Calvin Hermanson sparked an 11-2 run to give the team a nine point lead. All three players would end the night in double-digit points.
The Gaels capitalized on a lengthy scoring drought by the Aggies in the middle the final half and worked a 9-0 run to expand their lead to 15. Hermanson chipped in four points during that span and Fitzner hit his second trey of the night for an SMC 74-59 advantage.
With under six minutes to go in the contest, Saint Mary's put the pedal to the floor with a 7-0 run, including a two-handed slam from Landale, to break away, 85-66. After the Aggies made seven first-half three pointers, the Gaels' defense forced NMSU to shoot 1-of-8 from beyond the arc for the remainder of the game.
Cullen Neal became the fourth Gael to reach double figures with 1:17 left in the contest as he splashed down a three from the left corner. Neal's bucket also pushed Saint Mary's into the 90-point range, a feat that the Gaels hadn't accomplished since the second game of last season in a 110-72 victory over Prairie View.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
- 8: Redshirt sophomore Tanner Krebs set a career-high with eight rebounds.
- 14: The Gaels scored 14 points off of eight Aggie turnovers during the game.
- 18: Landale's 20-point, 10-rebound performance represented his 18th double-double since the 2016-17 season.
- 22: Naar had a game-high 22 points and also led the team with five assists.
- 46: Saint Mary's scored 46 points in the paint during Monday's win.
- Q: Emmett Naar commented that his role hasn’t changed, but he was much more of a scorer in the first half. Is that due to a lack of experience outside the veterans?
- Bennett: “Emmett played well. He takes what the defense gives him. If he can score, he’ll score, and he’ll find the open man if you send people at him. He’s much more healthy than he was coming into last year. He’s a different athlete this time around.”
- Q: On New Mexico State and how the game went...
- Bennett: “They’re pretty good. You want to get tested early, and I feel that it was the first time we had some real adversity. They did a great job with the new guys that they had, and I respect their program. Our guys kept our composure, and got back in front, and then in the second half we played a much more rounded game. We needed the win to show us that we could weather the adversity and we got great minutes from a lot of other guys like Jordan Hunter and Jock Perry to help us get the win.”
- Read the full set of quotes from tonight's game by clicking HERE.
- The first time Saint Mary's trailed this season came at the 16:44 mark in the first half when the Aggies went ahead, 8-7.
- Saint Mary's is 27-1 since the beginning of last season when leading at halftime.
- There were 13 lead changes in first half.
- The Aggies have won five of the last six WAC titles and advanced to the NCAA Tournament 23 times in program history.
- SMC shot 12 free throws in the first half alone, more than their game total versus Saint Francis (3).
- Tonight marked the third consecutive season the Gaels opened the year with back-to-back games scoring at least 80 points.
UP NEXT: CAL STATE FULLERTON
- Saint Mary's will continue the season at home Wednesday night versus Cal State Fullerton.
- Tip-off against the Titans is set for 7 p.m. PST and a live stream will be available through TheW.tv.
- The Gaels are 5-5 all-time versus Cal State Fullerton and have won the last three matchups between the two teams.
- Tickets can be purchased by clicking HERE or by calling the Gaels' Ticket Office at (925) 631-GoTx.
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