Overshadowed most of the season by the big games being played by BYU and Gonzaga, the Saint Mary’s Gaels have quietly been of to a strong start as well. They will be getting a lot more attention around the West Coast Conference after an exciting overtime win on the road at Creighton on Saturday. After a slow start for both teams in the overtime period, the Gaels scraped out a slim lead and held on making some key free throws down the stretch for a 71-67 win. The victory snaps a 24 game home winning streak for the Bluejays.
Stanford transfer Aaron Bright led the way for the Gaels with a career-high 22 points. Kerry Carter added 19 points. the Gaels were also dominant inside with both Brad Waldow and Dane Pineau recording a double-double. Waldow had 11 points 11 rebounds, while Pineau had 13 points and 10 rebounds.
The Gaels improve to 6-1 with the win after losing their first game of the season in their last outing against Boise State. The Bluejays fall to 8-3 in the loss and have dropped two of their last three games. They have played three overtime periods over their last two games pulling out a double overtime win over South Dakota before falling in a single overtime period to the Gaels.
This is by far the biggest win of the season so far for the Gaels. Besides snapping an intimidating home winning streak for Creighton, the Gaels get a quality win over a very good team coming off a second round NCAA Tournament appearance last season. Although the Bluejays are without the star of that team, Doug McDermott. The 2013-14 National Player of the Year and national scoring leader is now in the NBA with the Chicago Bulls.
This is still a great win however for the Gaels. They have been cruising for the most part without any major tests, and in their two games against decent opponents prior to Creighton, they looked average. They beat a decent UC Irvine team but just barely, and they became another WCC victim of Boise State in their first loss prior to this game against the Bluejays.
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But they proved themselves in a game that really tested them against an opponent that is tougher than both UC Irvine and Boise State. The win proved they have the elite talent to hang with the top teams in the conference, something that couldn’t be said with 100% certainty coming into this game. We know they have elite players, but they hadn’t put it all together for a marquee win until Saturday.
The Gaels will look to keep the momentum going as they return home to host Northern Arizona on Tuesday. That will be followed by a cross country trip to New York to face Saint John’s on Friday, their toughest test of the remaining non-conference games. A strong showing on the road again would help build the momentum they have coming off this big Creighton win.