Saint Mary’s was narrowly edged out by Purdue on Thursday night in the race to become the country’s first 20-win Division I team this season, but the Gaels made sure they were the first to 21 two days later.
Jordan Ford tied a career high with 20 points and Calvin Hermanson added 16 to help the 16th-ranked Gaels claim their nation-leading 21st win Saturday night with a 72-55 rout of Portland at McKeon Pavilion in Moraga, Calif.
The Gaels (21-2, 10-0 West Coast Conference) established a school record with their 16th consecutive win. Saint Mary’s, which wasn’t ranked in the AP Top 25 before this week, tied the 2008-09 team’s 15-game streak after beating BYU 75-62 shortly after Purdue’s victory Thursday.
Jojo Walker navigated the Pilots with a team-high 15 points. Marcus Shaver Jr. and Malcom Porter each added 12 as Portland (8-15, 2-8) couldn’t bounce back from a 95-79 loss to No. 15 Gonzaga on Thursday.
Portland hasn’t beaten Saint Mary’s since a 69-52 decision on March 7, 2015.
Emmett Naar contributed 10 points and six assists for the Gaels. Naar, who entered the game ranked second in Division I in assists (9.3 per game), is now only 26 shy of Matthew Dellavedova’s school career record of 768.
Gaels leading scorer Jock Landale, who totaled exactly 32 points in three of his previous four games, was limited to six but grabbed 11 rebounds Saturday.
Pilots leading scorer Josh McSwiggan went scoreless, missing all five of his field-goal attempts.
Landale’s jumper 53 seconds into the game had Saint Mary’s off and running in a game they would lead from start to finish.
Walker’s 3-pointer with 17:37 to play in the opening period brought Portland within a point at 4-3, but the Pilots wouldn’t come any closer and the Gaels pulled ahead 44-22 by halftime.
Saint Mary’s led by as many as 24 points in the second half, with Portland unable to trim the deficit any lower than 15 in the period after a 7-0 run capped by another trey from Walker at the 13:04 mark.
The Gaels and Pilots complete their two-game season series Feb. 17 in Portland.
Saint Mary’s completes its three-game homestand Thursday against San Francisco. Portland hosts Pepperdine on Thursday.
—Field Level Media