The Saint Mary’s Gaels defeated the Pacific Tigers 88-80 on Monday Night at the Spanos Center. The Gaels were led by all 5 starters who each scored between 14 and 18 points. The scoring breaks down like this: Beau Levesque 18, Stephen Holt 15, Kerry Carter 15, James Walker III 15, and Brad Waldow 14. Levesque and Waldow each had 8 rebounds, and Holt had 8 assists and only 1 turnover, and Levesque had 5 assists and 1 turnover. The Gaels also got a key contribution from 6th year senior Paul McCoy who scored 4 points in 3 minutes of play.
Andrew Bock led Pacific with 23 points, and Sama Taku followed behind with 17. Ross Rivera scored 10 points off the bench, but as starter Khalil Kelley was in foul trouble all game long. Tony Gill recorded 12 rebounds, but shot just 1/6 from the field.
Saint Mary’s kept the lead around 10 points for most of the second half as Pacific never really made a run and threatened to win the game. The victory for the Gaels is a nice bounce back from their 0-3 trip to the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii last week.
KEYS TO THE GAME REVISITED
X - Balanced scoring is key: While Bock and Taku were excellent from the guard spot, no one really stepped up in the frontcourt. Rivera did have 10 points but only on 3/8 shooting. I said they needed 4 players in double figures to win and they only got 3. That just wasn’t quite good enough against Saint Mary’s high powered offense.
✓ - Regroup without Coach Bennett: That’s exactly what the Gaels did. Assistant Coach Eran Ganot did an admirable job coaching the Gaels, who were playing without an injured Garrett Jackson. Stephen Holt had the best distributing game of his career in my opinion. Late in the game these were two consecutive offensive possessions: A Holt-Waldow pick and roll that resulted in a layup from Waldow on the pass from Holt. Another Holt-Waldow pick and roll where Holt splits the two Pacific defenders, gets into the lane, and kicks it out to a wide open Beau Levesque for three.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Just like in the BYU-Pepperdine game, it was 3 point shooting that made the difference in this one. Saint Mary’s was 13/26 beyond the arc while the Tigers of Pacific were only 4/16. The Gaels have four starters shooting over 43% from beyond the arc. That creates floor spacing and allows Brad Waldow to operate one on one in the post.
The Gaels are on the right track heading into the Kennel to face Gonzaga on Thursday night. With Bell out and Dower possibly too, the Gaels have an excellent chance to knock off #24 Gonzaga Bulldogs, even without Randy Bennett.
Pacific played a decent game in their first WCC conference game. If Khalil Kelley and Tony Gill can step up in the frontcourt, the Tigers will have an inside-outside combination that will be hard to guard.