No. 11 Saint Mary’s keeps rolling, beats Loyola Marymount
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Not looking too far ahead has been an effective mindset for Saint Mary’s, which hasn’t lost since November.
After another businesslike win on Thursday night, the 11th-ranked Gaels can gear up for their biggest game of the season.
Jock Landale scored 21 points and Jordan Ford added 20 points and nine rebounds to lead Saint Mary’s to an 83-62 victory over Loyola Marymount.
The Gaels (24-2, 13-0 West Coast Conference) have won 19 straight and host No. 12 Gonzaga on Saturday.
“We’re definitely a confident team, but we don’t pay any attention to rankings or winning streaks,” Ford said. “We stay right with our team and take it one game at time.”
Landale added nine rebounds and four steals in 28 minutes. Ford made 9 of 11 shots and the Lions couldn’t stop his moves to the basket.
“I just knew from the get-go that I was going to be able to get on the rim and use my quickness to get to the basket,” Ford said. “They have a really big guy at 7-foot-3 so I figured I’d be able to get around him and get to the rim.”
Eli Scott had 16 points and 10 rebounds for Loyola Marymount (7-17, 2-11), which has lost seven of its last eight.
“These are tough to win,” Saint Mary’s coach Randy Bennett said. “People act like you’re just going to win these games. Ask BYU (which lost to Loyola Marymount). They’re not easy to win.”
In the first half, Saint Mary’s built as much as a 16-point lead by making high-efficiency shots inside. The Gaels scored 26 points in the paint before halftime and 48 in the game.
The Lions kept the game within reach and trailed 40-31 at the break.
“We tried to take the 3-ball away from them. They’re one of the best in the country at doing that,” Loyola Marymount coach Mike Dunlap sad. “You’re going to give up some stuff in the paint. We were willing to do that. We made a nice push back. It could’ve been (down by) 20 in the first half. We were able to play through our post a little bit. It was encouraging at halftime. They’re the No. 11 team in the country. We have 3-4 young guys, freshmen and one sophomore. They have four seniors. We learned in that game.”
Saint Mary’s was 6-for-14 from 3-point range.
The Gaels were too much for the Lions in the second half and played much of it without Landale, who was on the bench with foul trouble.
Loyola Marymount fans haven’t had much to cheer about this season, so they took to heckling Landale about what they thought of his NBA chances. Landale once looked toward the hecklers, which fueled them to continue.
Landale was whistled for his fourth foul with 11:50 left in the game and went to the bench.
“It’s not great to pick up my fourth foul, I can’t do that,” Landale said. “It was good to see the guys step up. Ford stepped up big time. So did Jordan Hunter. They stepped up for us. We know all these guys can play. It’s never a bad thing to let other guys get a look. Obviously, I can’t pick up that fourth foul, but it worked out well for us tonight.”
CAREER ASSIST RECORD
Emmett Naar had 12 assists and set the Saint Mary’s record for career assists, previously held by fellow Australian Matthew Dellavedova. The senior guard has 769 assists.
“It means a lot,” Naar said. “It’s pretty cool. I was just happy to come here, to be honest. I never thought anything like this would happen. It shows the system we play in and the guys we’ve gotten to play with. I’ve had some pretty ridiculous 5-men I’ve gotten to play with and some great shooters. It’s more of a testament to them and the coaches for giving me freedom.”
ON TO THE NEXT
The West Coast Conference will show off its two teams ranked in the top 12 when the Gaels host the Zags.
“We’ve just got to treat it like any other game,” Landale said. “We know there’s going to be a lot of hype around it. For us, it’s another matchup, and we have to play them like we played them last time up there. It should work out well for us. We try not to gas it up or hype it up too much because we know that will hurt us in the end, so we just try to treat it like any other game.”
Saint Mary’s: The Gaels stayed focused ahead of their nationally televised matchup with Gonzaga.
Loyola Marymount: The Lions are still searching for answers on how to become more competitive in the conference.
Saint Mary’s: Hosts No. 12 Gonzaga on Saturday.
Loyola Marymount: Hosts Pepperdine on Saturday.