Moraga, Calif. - Playing the last contest of a three-game road trip in WCC play, the Tigers were downed by a hot-shooting Saint Mary's side, falling 78-62, on Thursday night. The loss for the Tigers (4-12) dropped them to 3-4 in WCC play while the Gaels (15-2) remained a perfect 13-0 at home and improved to 6-1 in conference play.
Facing the nation's most efficient offense, the Tigers saw first hand the well oiled machine as the Gaels made their first four shots of the game to take a 9-2 lead into the first media timeout. The Gaels first miss would come from the free throw line just minutes later before the Tigers would end their early game drought with a jumper from the baseline from Ray Bowles. Pacific would hit a three out of the hand of David Taylor to cut the lead to just three with 13:47 to play before the Gaels would break their own dry spell with a baby hook in the lane from Jock Landale.
The hook kicked off an 11-0 run that extended the lead to double-digits for the Gaels at 21-7 before a layup from Maleke Haynes stopped the Tigers' nearly three minute scoreless stretch. The Gaels would remain without a miss from the field for nearly 11 minutes to start the game before a runner in the lane missed its mark from Emmett Naar. The perfect quarter from the Gaels in which they hit their first nine shots allowed Saint Mary's to push the lead to 25-12 with just under nine minutes to play in the half.
In all, the Gaels would miss just three shots in the opening half going 15-of-18 taking a 19-point lead into the break at 46-27, the most points scored in the first half against the Tigers on the year. The Gaels just missed the NCAA record in the half which sits at 16-of-17 (94.1%) set by North Carolina in the second half against Virginia on Jan. 7, 1978. Naar and Landale would each end the half with 15 points to lead the way for Saint Mary's.
The Gaels would cool in the second half, missing four of their first five shots, missing four consecutive shots before a layup ended a 2:30 minute scoring drought. The Tigers used the misses by the Gaels to claw back within shouting distance, knocking a 21-point lead down to 13 just after the first media of the second half at 14:34. However, just as the Tigers began to make headway back into the game the Gaels used a quick spurt against Pacific's second team to swell the lead to its largest of 22 at 62-40.
The Tigers would finally get back on the board after nearly five minutes with a single free throw from Haynes, but by then the damage was done by the 9-0 run of the Gaels putting Pacific in an insurmountable hole. With the Bowles and T.J. Wallace back in, the Tigers would close to within 13 once again, before the contest settled on a 16-point win for the Gaels.
Overall, the Gaels saw two score over 20+ points in the game led by Landale's career-high of 24 after going 7-for-7 from the floor and 10-for-12 from the line. Near would end his night with 21 points, hitting four from distance on four attempts while going 7-for-11 from the field. The Gaels would finish shooting 60.0% from the field (24-of-40) after hitting on 40.9% from the floor in the second half.
Pacific would put just one in double-figures in the loss with Bowles scoring 16 points on 5-of-8 shooting. Wallace would end with a game-high nine rebounds but score just six points going 3-for-9 from the field. The Tigers ended the night shooting 42.9% (21-of-49) overall.
The Tigers return home to begin a four-game homestand on Saturday, Jan. 16 when they take on the Bethesda Flames as part of a doubleheader with the women's team. The men hit the court at 6:00 pm after the women take on Saint Mary's at 3:00 pm.