MORAGA (AP) — Jock Landale kept passing out of double-teams and finding open shooters on the perimeter in the first half, something the Saint Mary’s big man has become very adept at doing this season.
When San Francisco changed its defensive strategy in the second half, Landale took advantage and took over to keep the 13th-ranked Gaels rolling.
Landale bounced back from his lowest scoring game of the season and had 18 of his 26 points in the second half as Saint Mary’s beat San Francisco 79-43 on Thursday night.
“They were doubling me in the first half and guys were hitting every single 3-pointer it felt like so we just tried to keep going to that,” Landale said. “I kind of knew in the second half I’d probably take on a bit more of a scoring role just because if they doubled us again it would be tough for them.”
Tanner Krebs scored 12 points on four 3-pointers — all in the first half — while Emmett Naar had eight assists to pull within 18 of the school’s career record while helping the Gaels (22-2, 11-0 West Coast Conference) to their 17th consecutive win. Evan Fitzner added 10 points and nine rebounds.
Landale had just six points and took only four shots in Saint Mary’s win over Portland last week and scored eight in the first half against San Francisco before breaking out in the second half.
The WCC’s leading scorer and rebounder, Landale had 18 of the Gaels’ first 20 points in the second half including two three-point plays. He also had a driving dunk as part of a 19-0 run that put Saint Mary’s up 68-30.
“We tried to do some things differently, which they forced us to,” San Francisco coach Kyle Smith said. “We tried to double (Landale and Naar) in the first half and they made us pay. In the second half we played them straight up and they made us pay.”
One of three Division I players averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds this season, Landale has 15 double-doubles this season including 13 in his past 16 games. He had 12 rebounds on Thursday.
That was enough to extend the second-longest winning streak among Division I schools. The 17-game winning streak is also an ongoing school record for Saint Mary’s.
“However they decide to play Jock, we play accordingly,” Gaels coach Randy Bennett said. “He’s a pretty unselfish player for a guy that scores as many as he does. He doesn’t really get hung up on how many he scores. He’s good that way.”
Jordan Ratinho had eight points to lead San Francisco (12-12, 4-7). Souley Boum, the Dons leading scorer, was held to five points on 2 of 7 shooting.
The game was a matchup between Bennett and Smith, who spent nine seasons as an assistant with the Gaels.
This one went to the mentor — Bennett’s seventh straight win against the Dons and third straight over Smith.
“I hate it, I don’t like it at all,” Bennett said of facing Smith. “I told him that before the game. I don’t like competing against him or his teams. It takes a little of the fun off the win, honestly.”
NAAR CLOSING IN
Naar is inching closer to Matthew Dellavedova’s school record of 768 career assists. Naar, who leads the nation in total assists, has seven more games to get the remaining 18 assists to tie Dellavedova’s mark.
“They pushed us around. I don’t think we kept fighting. They got every rebound. We hung our heads and you can’t hang your head against good teams. They exposed us a little bit.” — Smith.
San Francisco: Facing their second ranked opponent in three days the Dons were outmatched and outhustled all night while losing to the Gaels for the 24th time in 25 games.
Saint Mary’s: The Gaels didn’t miss a beat when Landale had his slow night against Portland but they definitely are a different — and better — team when the big man is in rhythm. Krebs continues to give the team a boost, although it had mostly been with his defense. There are already discussions that this may be Bennett’s best team.
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