No. 18 Saint Mary's keeps rolling with 84-73 win over USD

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No. 18 Saint Mary's keeps rolling with 84-73 win over USD

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MORAGA -- Rob Jones watched Matthew Dellavedova slice through the lane and waited for the lob. The ball arched through a crowd of defenders, some his former teammates, and he hammered home a two-hand dunk that put the punctuation on a night that never figured to be so close.Not in these parts, anyway.Jones had 28 points and eight rebounds against his former team, and No. 18 Saint Mary's survived a slow start to beat San Diego 84-73 on Thursday night for its 12th straight victory.

"It has nothing to do that I used to play for them at all," said Jones, who spent two seasons at San Diego and enrolled at Saint Mary's in 2010. "Every game someone steps up and delivers, and it just happened to be me tonight."What timing.The alley-oop from Dellavedova to Jones extended Saint Mary's lead to 80-73 with 54 seconds to play, bringing an announced crowd of 3,500 anxious fans roaring to their feet. San Diego shot 60 percent and Saint Mary's only 46 percent.Saint Mary's still escaped unscathed.Stephen Holt scored a career-high 23 points and Dellavedova added 17 points, six rebounds and five assists to anchor a late 15-6 run that gave the Gaels (22-2, 11-0) the lead for good against a surprising West Coast Conference challenger. Saint Mary's has won 15 straight at home to keep alive its chances for the program's first undefeated season at McKeon Pavilion."For whatever reason, we haven't had a lot of close ones," Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said. "You have to play in those so that you have to make good decisions and play under that kind of pressure. In a funny way, it's all right for us. It could help us down the road."Chris Manresa had 25 points and Dennis Kramer scored 17 for the Toreros (8-14, 3-7), who pushed the Gaels to the brink for the second time this season. San Diego lost 78-72 at home to Saint Mary's on Jan. 5.Duplicating that type of performance has been a rare sight this year for McKeon Pavilion visitors.The Toreros, who upset Saint Mary's 74-66 in San Diego last season, showed no signs of slipping this year. They pulled ahead in the opening minutes with a torrid start from beyond the arc and kept the Gaels on edge with production from across the roster.Kramer came off the bench and made a pair of 3-pointers during a sudden spurt that gave San Diego a 24-19 lead. The Toreros went ahead by as many as six until the Gaels started to build momentum just before half, tying the score at 42 on Stephen Holt's layup in the opening minutes of the second session."No one's played them as close in the league as we have," San Diego coach Bill Grier. "And we've battled them. For whatever reason, we seem to match up well with them."Little separation occurred until late.A total of 15 ties and six lead changes highlighted a tight contest. Both teams shot well - San Diego at 60 percent and Saint Mary's at 46 percent - and made few mistakes.Dellavedova shook off a timid start to tame the Toreros, making a 3-pointer, short jumper and two free throws during a 15-6 stretch that put the Gaels ahead by seven. Later, he feathered the alley-oop to Jones that sealed the victory."Our coaches do a good job of keeping everything in perspective," said Holt, whose previous best was 21 points against Portland earlier this season. "Yeah, we're ranked and we're undefeated in the conference, but we still haven't accomplished our goal of a WCC championship."Another strong season shaping up for Saint Mary's has had little come easy lately.After breaking his thumb last week in a locker room mishap, Bennett already was wearing a cast around his right hand and a short-sleeve collared shirt instead of his usual sharp suits. He said he opened a door and a white board fell on his thumb, requiring emergency surgery in Los Angeles following a victory at Loyola Marymount.Most students also were absent because of a brief vacation between terms. That still didn't stop crowds from flocking to tiny McKeon Pavilion to create another strong and feverish turnout at the mid-major powerhouse.Saint Mary's is one of eight teams in Division I - along with WCC rival Gonzaga and newcomer BYU - to win at least 25 games in each of the last four seasons. The ranking this week in the AP poll is the highest for Saint Mary's since 1989.The highest ranking ever for the program is No. 14, a mark held in the first poll of the 1958-59 season. A few more wins might allow the Gaels to top that mark - even if they have to sweat out another victory.

No. 20 Saint Mary's holds off Santa Clara in WCC finale

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No. 20 Saint Mary's holds off Santa Clara in WCC finale

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MORAGA — Jock Landale scored 17 points and No. 20 Saint Mary's beat Santa Clara 70-56 on Saturday night in the West Coast Conference regular season finale for both teams.

Emmett Naar and Calvin Hermanson scored 13 points apiece and Dane Pineau added 10 points to help the Gaels (26-3, 15-3) complete a season sweep of the Broncos.

Saint Mary's will get a week off before playing in the WCC tournament as the No. 2 seed in Las Vegas next week.

The Gaels will go in at full strength after suffering a brief scare midway through the second half. Joe Rahon, the team's emotional leader and workhorse in the backcourt, limped off the court with an apparent knee injury and was taken into a tunnel to be examined. He returned to the court a few minutes later wearing tape around his right leg below the knee. He then later got his entire knee wrapped.

Saint Mary's led by as many as 20 in the second half despite coming out of halftime missing six of seven shots with two turnovers.

Landale, as he has much of the season, got the Gaels back on track with a short hook over Henrik Jadersten to start a 10-0 run. Landale later scored on consecutive trips down the floor to push Saint Mary's lead to 66-47.

Jared Brownridge and Matt Hauser scored 15 points apiece for Santa Clara. The Broncos (16-15, 10-8 WCC) lost for only the second time in the last five games.

The Gaels led nearly the entire way.

Saint Mary's came out strong from the perimeter, making five of seven shots beyond the arc in the first half. Naar had two of the 3s and was one of six Gaels players to score as part of an 11-2 run that pushed their lead to 41-29 at halftime.

BIG PICTURE

Santa Clara: Another tough night for the Broncos, who couldn't get much going despite Saint Mary's going through a pair of lulls on offense. Brownridge scored nine of his team's first 11 points, a pattern that played out much of the game. Jadersten gave Santa Clara an early lift with two 3s but picked up three fouls over a span of 1:41 minutes during the first half.

Saint Mary's: With four straight wins the Gaels have regained some of the momentum they lost after falling to No. 1 Gonzaga on Feb. 11 for the second time this season. A third showdown between the conference's two best teams appears likely.

UP NEXT

Santa Clara: The Broncos are the fourth seed for the WCC tournament and will have a bye in the first round.

Saint Mary's: The Gaels also receive a first-round bye and won't play until March 4.

Stanford falls short, can't complete upset against Oregon

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Stanford falls short, can't complete upset against Oregon

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STANFORD -- Oregon survived its Bay Area trip by the slimmest of margins.

Jordan Bell scored on a putback with 14 seconds left to give the sixth-ranked Ducks their second straight nail-biting victory in a rare Bay Area sweep as Oregon beat Stanford 75-73 on Saturday.

"It stresses Coach out," guard Dylan Ennis said. "It shows us that we can just get gritty, get down and get the win. ... Hopefully if we're down like that again we can fight back and do the same thing."

Bell's game-winner followed Dillon Brooks' last-second, tiebreaking 3-pointer three nights earlier at California to give Oregon (26-4, 15-2 Pac-12) its second sweep of its conference Bay Area rivals since 1976. The other came two years ago.

Tyler Dorsey scored 15 points to lead Oregon, while Brooks added 14.

"It's been a tough road trip for us, two close games," coach Dana Altman said. "That's life on the road. We found a way."

Reid Travis had 27 points and 14 rebounds to lead the way for the Cardinal (14-14, 6-10), but committed a turnover on the final possession to end any comeback hopes on senior day that honored Christian Sanders, Marcus Allen and Grant Verhoeven.

"There's a little extra when you see guys like Christian, Marcus and Grant shedding tears when they're getting called up," Travis said. "It's the last time they get to compete on this court. ... Just looking at that, there's no choice but to be motivated."

Stanford trailed by as many as 12 points in the first half but battled back to tie the game five times in the second half. But it took until that fifth equalizer for the Cardinal to take their first lead since being up 9-8 early in the first half.

Travis' jumper in the lane made it 71-69 with less than 3 minutes left but the lead was short-lived as Brooks hit a jumper at the other end to tie it.

The game was tied at 73 when the Ducks managed four offensive rebounds on one possession before finally converting on Bell's shot with 14 seconds left. It capped a wild sequence that started when Ennis shot an airball on a 3-pointer. Payton Pritchard caught the ball in the air and shot it to the rim before the shot clock expired. Bell was there to put back the second miss for the game-winner.

"It was going so fast I don't even know what happened," Altman said.

Travis lost the ball in the paint at the other end to seal the victory for Oregon.

BIG PICTURE

Oregon: The Ducks capped a 7-1 February with just their second road sweep of the conference season as they peaking at the right time of year. Their only loss in that span came on a late 3-pointer by Lonzo Ball in an 82-79 loss at UCLA. Oregon has one more road game left to finish the regular season at last-place Oregon State, and remains in contention for a Pac-12 title and a top two seeding in the NCAA Tournament.

Stanford: The Cardinal were unable to follow up home wins against California and Oregon State when faced by tougher competition from the Ducks. That has been an issue all season for Stanford, which fell to 0-8 against ranked opponents.

THEY SAID IT

"Something hit my elbow. It might have been the wind, but I don't shoot airballs on game-winners." - Ennis.

POUND THE BOARDS

Oregon had just eight rebounds for the entire first half before getting the four offensive boards on the final possession of the game. The Ducks were outrebounded 37-25 for the game but were outscored by only four points on second-chance opportunities.

CEREMONIAL DAY

Stanford also held a halftime ceremony for former coach Mike Montgomery, who was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame this past November. Montgomery is the winningest coach in school history with 393 of his 677 wins coming for the Cardinal.

UP NEXT

Oregon: Visits Oregon State on Saturday.

Stanford: Visits Colorado on Thursday.