Saint Mary’s edge USF Don’s 86-80

Photos by Tod Fierner

MORAGA, Calif. — Saint Mary’s Gaels and USF Don’s clashed in an offensive slugfest Saturday at McKeon Pavilion but the Gaels emerged victorious for a pivotal conference win. 86-80

Malik Fitts had an all-around stellar game and took control of the Gaels’ offense with a career-high 30 points. The 6-8 forward scored 12 of those off the three-ball and also had team-highs in rebounds and steals, with eight and three, respectively.

Fitts entered Saturday’s game averaging 18.4 points in conference action and 23.3 over the last three games.

Tommy Kuhse also had one of his best games of the season with a career-high 17 points and three assists in 36 minutes. Usually the Gaels’ primary facilitator, Kuhse instead wore the hat of scoring threat and was 7-of-11 from the field, including 2-of-4 from distance.

A 13-4 run by the Dons in the final two minutes of the game cut the Gaels’ lead to three with 18.7 left to play but clutch defense and timely free throws in the final stretch allowed Saint Mary’s to pull out the win.

Jordan Ford was a perfect 6-for-6 from the charity stripe and rattled off 26 points as well for his 14th 20-plus performance this season. The junior guard added five assists and seven rebounds while playing every second of the game.

The offenses for both teams were firing on all cylinders in front of the sold-out McKeon crowd and each finished the contest shooting above 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3-point.

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