Aussie Landale has double-double, Saint Mary's wins opener
ABS-CBN Sports on Mar 17, 2017 01:09 PM
Saint Mary's Jock Landale shoots as Portland's Gabe Taylor (24) and D'Marques Tyson (5) defend during the second half of a West Coast Conference tournament NCAA college basketball game Saturday, March 4, 2017, in Las Vegas. Saint Mary's won 81-58. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)
KAREEM COPELAND, AP Sports Writer
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (AP) — Australian center Jock Landale had 18 points and 13 rebounds as seventh-seeded Saint Mary's held on for an 85-77 victory over No. 10 Virginia Commonwealth in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament's West Region on Thursday.
The Gaels led most of the way, but had to fight to hold on after the VCU defensive pressure started to become too much in the second half.
Joe Rahon and Calvin Hermanson finished with 16 points each for Saint Mary's.
Landale, from Melbourne, is one of seven Australians on the Saint Mary's roster. The Down Under connection began during Randy Bennett's first season in 2001-02 and has included NBA champions Patty Mills and Matthew Dellavedova.
JeQuan Lewis led VCU with 30 points.
Saint Mary's (29-4) took a 46-31 lead into halftime thanks to a 23-6 run highlighted by back-to-back 3-pointers from Hermanson. The Gaels shot 64 percent in the first half and hit 4 of 9 from behind the arc as VCU (26-9) struggled to disrupt their half-court offense. On top of that, Saint Mary's was the team able to get out on the break and score in transition. That's VCU's style of play, but the Rams managed just two fast-break points in the first half.
The next 20 minutes was stark contrast.
Saint Mary's began turning the ball over from VCU's increased pressure, which led to fast-break opportunities for the Rams. Once it began scoring more consistently, VCU was able to set up its vaunted press and cause havoc.
The Gales' offense that was so crisp in the first half struggled to find rhythm after the break, but VCU kept fouling and sending them to the line for free points. The freebies kept the Rams from getting over the hump and their last lead was at 18-17.
VCU committed 32 fouls and Saint Mary's hit 29 of 39 free throws, including 29 second-half attempts. VCU hit 17 of 26.
Three of the Gaels' four losses this year came against No. 1-seeded Gonzaga. They return to the tournament for the first time since 2013.
Saint Mary's, which hasn't advanced past the second round since 2010, will next play No. 2-seeded Arizona, which beat No. 15 North Dakota 100-82 in a game later Thursday.
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