Photos by Tod Fierner (Martinez News-Gazette)
Saint Mary’s College Photographer.
A strong defensive second half helped the Gaels get past a pesky Pacific team Thursday night as Saint Mary’s moved in sole possession of third place in the West Coast Conference.
Jordan Ford, the WCC’s leading scorer, had another dazzling game as he went off for a game-high 28 points and made 10 of his 13 free throws. The junior entered Thursday’s contest as the third best 3-point shooter in the conference and proved his ability by going 4-of-6 from beyond the arc.
As a team, the Gaels were 10-for-17 from distance, 59-percent, which marked their best perimeter shooting performance of the season.
Malik Fitts scored 14 points on the night on 5-of-9 shooting while Jordan Hunter grabbed a career-high 14 boards, including seven on the offensive glass. Tommy Kuhse and Elijah Thomas chipped in eight points as well.
Pacific shot 67-percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes but just 36-percent in the second half as the Gaels’ defense did a solid job shutting down the Tigers’ big scorers. Jeremiah Bailey scored a team-high 14 points in the first half for UOP but was held to just two in the final session.
Ford scored six straight during a 14-3 second half run that helped Saint Mary’s pull ahead of the Tigers by double-digits and the Gaels held a comfortable lead for the remainder of regulation. Seven of Ford’s 10 second half points came via the free throw.