Landale scores 22 as No. 18 Saint Mary’s beats Pacific 74-70
STOCKTON, Calif. (AP) After building a big lead, No. 18 Saint Mary’s got comfortable and it almost ended up costing the Gaels in a big way.
Jock Landale scored 21 of his 22 points before Saint Mary’s went into a long second-half drought and the Gaels had to hang on for a 74-70 victory over Pacific on Thursday night that gave them 14 wins in the past 15 games.
”You can’t ever forget it’s tough to win on the road,” coach Randy Bennett said. ”You give yourself a lead you better keep doing the things that got you that lead. I don’t think we did, especially at the defensive end.”
The Gaels (20-2, 10-1 West Coast Conference) built a 19-point lead before going 8:43 without a basket in the second half as the Tigers (8-16, 2-9) cut the deficit to three. But Saint Mary’s used free throws to stay in front and have their 10th straight 20-win season.
T.J. Wallace and Anthony Townes scored 15 points each as the Tigers lost their sixth straight overall and ninth in a row to Saint Mary’s.
Pacific used a 16-2 run to cut Saint Mary’s big lead down to five on a 3-pointer by Wallace. A tip-in by Tonko Vuko cut it to 62-59 with just over 5 minutes to go.
Emmett Naar and Dane Pineau each made two free throws before Joe Rahon ended the long shooting drought with a layup for a three-point play that made it 69-61. That was the only basket for Saint Mary’s in the final 12 minutes of the game.
”It’s happened to us before,” said Rahon, who finished with 14 points. ”We’re not proud of it. We need to try to break that habit where if we get up 10, 15 in the second half, push it to 20 instead of letting them back in it. … We need to do a better job putting them away if we can.”
The Gaels were unable to pull away in the first half until scoring six straight to take a 10-point lead on Landale’s dunk with 21 seconds left. But Wallace responded with a 3-pointer at the buzzer to make it 41-34 at the break.
Saint Mary’s: The Gaels had done a good job staying focused on the task at hand during this seven-game stretch of games between showdowns with Gonzaga. Saint Mary’s has won the first five to keep pace with top-ranked Gonzaga and has just two more warmups until hosting the Bulldogs next Saturday.
Pacific: The Tigers are struggling in coach Damon Stoudamire’s first season and remain tied for last in the conference. But they showed progress this game with the big second-half run second before faltering down the stretch, missing seven straight shots after getting within three.
”We’re just trying to get a win,” D.J Ursery said. ”It’s tough being on this losing streak. But just keep fighting and we’ll get some wins coming down the stretch.”
After getting a layup from Dane Pineau to go up 19 points, Saint Mary’s didn’t get the ball inside much the rest of the way. During the nearly 9-minute drought, the Gaels shot exclusively 3-pointers, missing all six, including tries from big men Landale and Pineau.
”We just decided to shoot 3s with our fours and fives,” Bennett said. ”But credit Pacific. They played them hard enough that our guys quit fighting to get it inside.”
Landale had 11 rebounds giving him 10 double-doubles on the season, including three in his past four games.
Saint Mary’s: Visits San Diego on Saturday.
Pacific: Visits Pepperdine on Saturday.
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