Saint Mary’s routs New Mexico 85-60 at tripleheader in LA
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Saint Mary’s came out shooting and the Gaels never let up.
Jordan Ford scored 18 of his 28 points in the first half and Saint Mary’s routed New Mexico 85-60 on Friday in the opening game of the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic tripleheader.
The Gaels (6-4) rolled to big leads at the start of each half in winning their third in a row. Malik Fitts added 15 points. Both Ford and Fitts played with three fouls in the second half at Staples Center.
“These guys came ready to roll. That was key,” Saint Mary’s coach Randy Bennett said. “We’re growing up. We’re learning how to put teams away when we have an opportunity to do that.”
“If you look at the shooting numbers tonight, it’s definitely warranted to say we look tired,” coach Paul Weir said of the Lobos’ 35-percent shooting.
Saint Mary’s opened the game with a 22-8 spurt, getting eight points from Ford and six by Fitts. Ford scored the Gaels’ final seven points of the half to put them up 43-29.
It was all Saint Mary’s to start the second half. The Gaels scored 15 straight points behind five by Ford and four from Fitts to extend their lead to 58-29.
Ford’s second 3-pointer pushed the Gaels’ lead to 74-41. They shot 60 percent from the floor in the game.
“The first few minutes of that second half just, unfortunately, sealed it,” Weir said. “They came out fired out and full of a lot of energy and unfortunately we looked just absolutely gassed.”
New Mexico: The Lobos had eight assists, one off their season low. … They fell to 1-2 all-time in the series. The teams were meeting for the first time since 2001. … The Lobos have trailed at the break four times in seven games this season and come back to win three times. … They were coming off a 100-65 loss to rival New Mexico State.
Saint Mary’s: The Gaels had a season-high 15 turnovers. … They are 1-2 in neutral-site games this season with one more to play against LSU in Las Vegas on Dec. 15. They lost to Utah State and then-No. 15 Mississippi State in Vegas before Thanksgiving.
Lobos F Corey Manigault didn’t play as the result of being suspended after the New Mexico State game on Tuesday. Weir wouldn’t specify the reason or how long the team’s third-leading scorer would be out. “I like to just allow it to unfold and when I feel as though I sense that person has learned a lesson then I’m ready to move forward,” the coach said.
It was a homecoming game for Fitts, who is from nearby Rancho Cucamonga.
“I thought it was really cool,” the redshirt sophomore forward said. “It was really nice to play in an NBA arena. Not a lot of people get this opportunity.”
New Mexico: Hosts Colorado on Tuesday in the first of four straight home games.
Saint Mary’s: Hosts Cal State Fullerton on Monday.