- Associated Press - Sunday, January 8, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - With San Francisco double-teaming him almost every time he touched the ball down low, Jock Landale and the Saint Mary’s offense had a tough time getting going.

Better positioning in the paint by the 6-foot-11 center and a couple of critical 3-pointers off the bench from Tanner Krebs late in the second half helped get the Gaels rolling.

Landale had 21 points and 11 rebounds, and No. 19 Saint Mary’s overcame its sluggish start to beat San Francisco 63-52 on Saturday night.

“In the second half I started to get the ball a little deeper and it made it harder for them to come double me,” Landale said. “I just tried to capitalize on all their bigs being in foul trouble, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do the last few games. That was definitely a massive advantage for us.”

Landale gave the Gaels an early boost when they had trouble shooting from the perimeter, then scored all the points in a 6-0 run during the second half as the Dons’ top two interior defenders, Matt McCarthy and Jimbo Lull, sat on the bench.

“Earlier we were playing (Landale) just straight 1-on-1 and that’s a slow death,” San Francisco coach Kyle Smith said. “The big key is you have to respect (Emmett) Naar and (Joe) Rahon. They make so many plays for the other guys. I’m sure Landale sends them Christmas gifts for the rest of his life.”

Dane Pineau added 14 points and 12 rebounds, and Rahon scored 13 to help the Gaels (14-1, 4-0 West Coast Conference) to their eighth straight win.

San Francisco (11-6, 1-3) was down only 52-49 when Krebs made a 3-pointer from the left corner with 6:52 remaining. Pineau followed with his own 3 from the same spot and, after Charles Minlend’s free throw for the Dons, Krebs later drained his second from beyond the arc to push the Saint Mary’s lead to 61-50.

“Some of our deal is attrition,” Saint Mary’s coach Randy Bennett said. “You have to keep guarding Landale, he and (Dane) Pineau down there, the whole time. You’re going to get fouls, and guys just get worn out.”

Ronnie Boyce scored 19 to lead the Dons. San Francisco has lost three straight and four of five.

“Ronnie’s our point-a-minute man,” Smith said.

The Dons matched up well with their interior defense and frustrated the Gaels early with double-teams whenever the ball entered the post. Landale broke through with three hook shots and had 10 points in the first half, but Saint Mary’s shot only 37 percent, committed seven turnovers before the break and trailed 28-26 at halftime.

BUDDY BALL

The game was a reunion of sorts for Bennett and Smith, who was part of Bennett’s staff for nine seasons from 2001-10. Smith went on to coach at Columbia for six years before returning to the Bay Area this season, setting up the first meeting against his former mentor.

The teacher got the upper hand this time with some help from his big man in the middle, although Bennett wasn’t in much of a mood to celebrate. “I really don’t like playing against my friends,” Bennett said. “We go 25 years back. Somebody’s going to win and somebody’s going to lose. It is what it is.”

TIP-INS

Saint Mary’s: The Gaels’ 26 points in the first half matched their second-lowest total of the season and were only three more than they scored in the first half against UT Arlington on Dec. 8 en route to their only loss. … Calvin Hermanson, one of Saint Mary’s top perimeter shooters, scored three points and was limited to nine minutes because of foul trouble.

San Francisco: This was the first time since 1993-94 that the Dons played ranked teams in consecutive games. Smith’s team lost to No. 5 Gonzaga on Thursday. San Francisco is 2-13 in its last 15 games against ranked opponents.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Gaels had to grind their way past both BYU and San Francisco this week but emerged unscathed and are still unbeaten in conference play. Don’t expect much change in the rankings, though, as the teams ahead of Saint Mary’s keep winning.

UP NEXT

Saint Mary’s: Travels to Portland on Thursday for the second stop on a three-game road trip.

San Francisco: Heads to Utah to play at BYU on Thursday.

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