- Associated Press - Sunday, March 5, 2017

LAS VEGAS (AP) - A stumbling Emmett Naar appeared headed for a wipeout when he suddenly regained his balance, eluded a defender and delivered a perfect behind-the-back pass to Jock Landale for an eventual three-point play.

No. 20 Saint Mary’s had the offense buzzing in the second half of its West Coast Conference Tournament opener.

Calvin Hermanson hit five 3-pointers and scored 21 points, Landale added 19 points and 12 rebounds and Saint Mary’s pulled away for an 81-58 victory over Portland on Saturday night in the quarterfinals.

“It’s a lot of fun when we’re like that, really dangerous,” Hermanson said. “When our offense is clicking, it’s a thing of beauty.”

Naar had 11 assists and just one turnover for the second-seeded Gaels (27-3), who won their fifth straight game and advanced to play third-seeded BYU in Monday’s semifinals. The Cougars beat Loyola Marymount 89-81 earlier Saturday.

“We struggled for a while, I thought. We turned it over and didn’t shoot it well. We were just kind of inconsistent,” Gaels coach Randy Bennett said. “Then the last 10-12 minutes we really played well.”

Jazz Johnson matched a career high with 26 points for the 10th-seeded Pilots (11-22), who were outrebounded 38-23.

Portland, which snapped a 16-game conference losing streak Friday night with a first-round win over San Diego, ended the first half on a 6-0 run to get within 32-27.

But then Saint Mary’s started to go inside to Landale and he consistently scored in the post. When Portland started collapsing inside, Hermanson answered from the outside and with drives to the basket.

“We didn’t have answers for their inside game and then when we did some things inside, Hermanson really hurt us on the perimeter,” Portland coach Terry Porter said. “We didn’t find him quick enough.”

Naar’s acrobatic pass helped to make it 61-46 with 7:30 left. Saint Mary’s shot 57 percent from the field and hit 11 of 27 3-pointers. Hermanson was 5 of 10 from behind the arc.

Johnson shot 9 of 15 and had six rebounds in Portland’s 17th loss in 19 games, ending an injury-filled season.

“It feels good to have a good individual game,” Johnson said, “but obviously the score reflects that we didn’t play well.”

BIG PICTURE

Portland: The first season under Porter, a former NBA All-Star, was a struggle. Porter, beloved in Oregon for his time with the Trail Blazers, has plenty of work ahead to jump-start a program with 42 losses in two seasons.

Saint Mary’s: The Gaels moved closer to getting a third chance against their nemesis, No. 4 Gonzaga. The Bulldogs beat Saint Mary’s twice in the regular season and handed the Gaels their last loss. They’re on track to meet in the final Tuesday.

LANDALE DELIVERS

It was Landale’s 14th double-double of the season.

HURTING RAHON

Bennett said Joe Rahon, who had three points and four fouls in 29 minutes, was a “little rusty” after not practicing all week with a sore knee. “I think he’ll be fine,” Bennett said of the WCC defensive player of the year.

PORTLAND‘S PROBLEMS

The Pilots’ season was derailed when senior Alec Wintering went down with a left knee injury in January. “It allowed other guys to get more experience and play different positions,” Porter said. “That would be the one thing I’d take away from it.”

UP NEXT

Portland: Porter’s transition from NBA coach to college coach will be tested by his ability to recruit in a key offseason.

Saint Mary’s: The Gaels beat BYU 81-68 and 70-57 in the regular season. Saint Mary’s is seeking its first WCC title since 2012.

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