Photos by Tod Fierner (Martinez News-Gazette) (Saint Mary’s College Photographer)
MORAGA, Calif. — Saint Mary’s wouldn’t let up on Saturday night in their first contest of the season against San Diego. Propelled by a strong offensive night from Malik Fitts and a strong defensive night from Tanner Krebs, the Gaels sealed the 76-59 win over the Toreros.
Jordan Ford got the scoring started for the Gaels on Saturday night with a driving layup that set the tone for the next ten minutes. The Saint Mary’s defense kept the Toreros scoreless on their first three attempts before San Diego was able to put points on the board. With 15:47 on the clock, the Gaels had taken control of a 13-4 lead and were on an 8-2 run since the 17th minute of the game.
Through the first five minutes of play, the Toreros were shooting just 2-for-7 compared to SMC who was shooting 7-for-11 with two threes. At the 12:30 mark, Ford sank a deep three that was his tenth point of the half while shooting 4-for-5 and increased Saint Mary’s lead to 16 points. Tanner Krebs also came up big in the first half as he collected six defensive rebounds. At the halfway point in the period, the Gaels were shooting 62 percent while holding San Diego to just 38 with only one attempt from the three point line.
The Toreros then went on a 7-1 run that brought the score to 27-17. During San Diego’s run, they improved their shooting to 50 percent, however, the Gaels were holding San Diego to 16 percent three-point shooting with just one three made all half. A dunk from Matthias Tass gave the Gaels the momentum in the final moments of the half and went into the break with a 38-26 lead over San Diego.
San Diego came out and scored the first points of the second half before the teams began trading buckets back and forth. With under 15 minutes to go in the game, the Gaels held a 47-35 lead over the Toreros as Fitts accounted for five of the first nine points for SMC and 24 points total on the night. Ford drained another three from deep, securing his 13th game with 20 or more points, as the Gaels then went on a 10-2 run to keep them well ahead of the Toreros.
The Gaels continued to defend well against the three point shot in the final minutes as the Toreros were only shooting 16 percent (2-for-12) with just over three minutes left and ended the night shooting 18 percent from the three. The Gaels fended off a 9-2 run from San Diego in the final minutes of the game and went on to take the 76-59 victory.