No. 15 Saint Mary’s pulls away to beat Portland 73-61
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Saint Mary’s coach Randy Bennett eyed the final stats before heading into the locker room.
“We needed that one,” he said.
Jock Landale had 23 points and 10 rebounds and No. 15 Saint Mary’s rebounded from a pair of losses with a 73-61 victory over Portland on Saturday night.
Tanner Krebs added 16 points and eight rebounds for the Gaels (25-4, 14-2 West Coast Conference), who have won seven straight against the Pilots (10-19, 4-12). With the victory, Saint Mary’s has its third straight 25-win season.
But the Gaels were hurt late in the second half when starting guard Emmett Naar left the game with an ankle injury and did not return.
Marcus Shaver Jr. had 15 points for Portland, which has dropped four straight games.
The Gaels sit in second in the West Coast Conference standings behind Gonzaga (25-4, 15-1) with just two more regular-season games to go. The conference championship tournament is set to start March 1 in Las Vegas.
The Pilots are eighth place in the 10-team conference, ahead of Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine.
The Gaels lost their last two after a school-record 19-game winning streak. Saint Mary’s fell at home to then-No. 12 Gonzaga 78-65 before getting upset at San Francisco, 70-63 on Thursday night.
“As much as there is a must-win, it was pretty important,” Bennett said about Saturday night’s result.
The Pilots were coming off an 81-72 loss at home Thursday to Santa Clara. Coach Terry Porter said he continues to see progress with his young team.
“I think the next step for us is getting the stops at crucial stretches, at the end of games,” Porter said. “Then offensively, I think these last games we’ve done some good things, we’ve just got to continue to make plays.”
Calvin Hermanson, a local standout from Lake Oswego, Oregon, hit a 3-pointer to put Saint Mary’s up 18-11 over Portland midway through the first half.
Portland closed the gap, tying it at 21 on a pair of free throws from JoJo Walker, then took the lead on Joseph Smoyer’s jumper. The Pilots were unable to extend the lead by more than a basket, and the Gaels led 36-31 at the half. Landale led all scorers with 10 points for Saint Mary’s.
Late in the half Naar went to the locker room with what appeared to be a left ankle injury. Naar, a starter from Sydney Australia, was averaging 10.6 points, 8.7 assists and 2.5 rebounds going into the game.
Bennett did not have an update on his status after the game.
Saint Mary’s appeared to be pulling away in the second half, going up 43-38 on Tanner Krebs’ jumper and free throw, but Walker’s 3-pointer got the Pilots within 46-43.
A pair of free throws from Krebs put the Gaels up 57-49, their biggest lead to that point.
There were some fireworks with 5:11 left when Portland center Phillip Hartwich got a technical and fouled out. Coach Terry Porter reacted angrily, also earning a tech. Krebs made all four shots to put Saint Mary’s ahead 63-53 and Portland couldn’t catch up.
The 10-point lead gave the Gaels some breathing room, Hermanson said.
“I don’t know if it was stuff they did, but we just didn’t play really well in that first half,” Hermanson said. “We missed a lot of layups — I missed a layup at the beginning of the game — Jock missed some shots he usually doesn’t miss. We just didn’t shoot well from the 3 tonight, which is kind of uncharacteristic for us.”
The Gaels have not lost at Portland since Jan. 29, 2011.
“I think they’re pretty good, they’re playing well. I know they don’t have a lot to show for it, but they played Pacific very close, controlled that game,” Bennett said about the Pilots. “They’re young guys are getting older, getting better. They’ve got to hang in there and be patient. But they’re pretty good.”
Saint Mary’s: It was the last college appearance of Hermanson before a hometown crowd. The 6-foot-6 forward grew up in Lake Oswego, just south of Portland. He was just the third player in the state to earn two Gatorade Player of the Year awards, joining Tyler Manlove and Kevin Love.
“I had a lot of friends and family here to support us, It was pretty big-time,” he said. “It makes me feel at home when I play here.”
Portland: Pilots still need one more win to equal last season’s total in coach Porter’s first season, but they’ve already doubled their conference wins.
Saint Mary’s wraps up the season at home against Pepperdine on Thursday and Santa Clara next Saturday.
The Pilots host BYU on Thursday before finishing the season at Pepperdine.