Friday, February 24, 2017

No. 20 Saint Mary's 78, Pepperdine 49: Gaels power through as WCC play winds down

                                             Photo Credit: Saint Mary's Athletics

By: Devin Larkins
Twitter @motownape

In a potential trap game, the No. 20 Saint Mary’s Gaels (24-3, 14-2 WCC) faced off against the Pepperdine Waves (9-19, 5-11 WCC) in a West Coast Conference matchup. The Gaels stayed motivated and powered through to a 78-49 win over the Waves in their last road game of the regular season.

The first half started with a three-point barrage. Evan Fitzner of the Gaels was the go-to player, with two long-range shots in the first five minutes of the game. When they were not hitting three-point shots, they were getting the ball in the paint to the forward combination of Calvin Hermanson and Dane Pineau. Ending with 13 and nine points, respectively.

Offense was not the only thing the Gaels did well. Their defense suffocated at moments, as the Waves shot 30 percent from the field in the first half, while also held to 1-of-12 from the three-point line. 

“The (Gaels) are a really good team," Pepperdine coach Marty Wilson said. "They will actually make that team go, how they handle the ball screens and make you make a mistake.”

Saint Mary's peaked at getting offensive rebounds, positioning themselves for 11 total in the game. The Waves would be without senior forward Chris Reyes and his eight rebounds per game for the season. 

“They had more guys, more-able bodies," Wilson said. "We (Waves) talk about dealing with adversity. We knew we were going to be out-manned.I tell you what, they (Waves) come to work every day in practice.”

Unexpectedly there was a power outage at the beginning of the second half, which brought the game to a halt for about 15 minutes. 

The Waves defense flipped a switch on defense in the second half. The Waves jumped in passing lanes and created turnovers. “That (power outage) made the game really choppy for a while. I thought it affected the game.” Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said.

Saint Mary's Jock Landale would be a big factor throughout the game— especially in the second half. Londale recorded a double-double, finishing with a game high of 23 points and 14 rebounds. 

“I really wanted to set the tone tonight with a fighting mindset," Landale said. "I think I just got lucky with getting open all the time.”

Lamond Murray who leads the WCC in scoring, was held below his season average of 20.5 points per game, to 17 points, on 7-of-19 from the field, which served as Pepperdine's only bright spot. Senior guard Jeremy Majors shot 3-of-13 on what was an important night for him as he made his 121st career start, tying the school record. 

Both teams end the regular season on Jan. 25, as both teams play at home as the Gaels host the Santa Clara Broncos, while the Waves take on the San Francisco Dons.

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