Saint Mary’s Falls to Vandebilt in First Round of NIT

Saint Mary’s hangover from their loss to Portland in the WCC Tournament was still a bit too strong to overcome. The Gaels’ season came to an end on Wednesday night in the first round of the NIT Tournament when they lost to the 5-seed Vanderbilt Commodores by a final score of 75-64.

Mar 4, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Vanderbilt Commodores center Damian Jones (30) gets the rebound against the Mississippi State Bulldogs during the second half at Memorial Gym. Vanderbilt won 66-56. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

As expected, Vanderbilt’s two leading scorers, Damian Jones and Riley LaChance, gave some superb efforts in their team’s victory, scoring 21 and 17 points, respectively. Jeff Roberson and Wade Baldwin IV also added 10 each.

Jones, their standout sophomore center, went an outstanding 10-14 from the field, which ties his career high for field goals made. Vanderbilt will advance to the next round of the NIT Tournament.

Oddly enough, the Gaels were off to quite a hot start in this matchup. They started out the game with an early 15-7 edge, only to be outscored by the Commodores 29-13 for the rest of the first half. Senior forward Garrett Jackson led his team in scoring with 23 points while also grabbing nine rebounds.

Fellow senior Brad Waldow finished his final game as a Gael with a double-double, notching 12 points and 13 rebounds. Aaron Bright was able to add 17 points for Saint Mary’s as well.

Despite these impressive performances, the Commodores were too much for the Gaels to handle. This was Saint Mary’s third loss in a row, ending their season on a rather sour note. What hurts most, though, is the loss of this year’s senior class. Waldow, who’s made quite an imprint in Saint Mary’s history, Bright, Kerry Carter, and Desmond Simmons all played their last game in a Saint Mary’s uniform.

This is an extremely talented and experienced group of seniors. Their services will be severely missed by Randy Bennett and the rest of the Gaels’ lineup next season. But despite the early exit, all Saint Mary’s fans can do now is take some time to get over that loss and get ready for an entirely new 2015-16 season.

SIDENOTE

On behalf of all of West Coast Convo, thank you to Brad Waldow, Aaron Bright, Kerry Cater, and Desmond Simmons. Your time as Gaels have provided for some fun basketball in the West Coast Conference throughout the past couple years, and we’re going to miss seeing you guys on the court. And speaking as a Gonzaga student/fan, I’m looking forward to seeing where this classic rivalry with Saint Mary’s will go in the years to come. I know it gets heated sometimes, but this fun thing we’ve got brewing here is exactly what makes college basketball so darn special. Thank you to the Saint Mary’s seniors for all of your time in the WCC.