By Dean Boerner | Editor-in-Chief

Landale goes for two his 17 points in the loss to Utah. (Courtesy of smcgaels.com)

 

In an incredibly evenly-matched game up until the two-minute mark of the overtime period, Utah prevailed over Saint Mary’s in the quarterfinals of the NIT, using a dominant final five minutes to down the Gaels in front of a packed house at McKeon Pavilion. Thus ends the season of Saint Mary’s, who finished 30-6 in the winningest season in program history, and thus ends the Saint Mary’s careers of the trio of Jock Landale, Emmett Naar, and Calvin Hermanson, the winningest trio in the history of Saint Mary’s basketball.

“I know what’s walking out that door,” said Randy Bennett, referring to the above mentioned trio and also Cullen Neal, a redshirt senior who made significant contributions to the team in his first and only season as a Gael. “And that’s four really good human beings, some really good leaders, and some guys who did a lot for Saint Mary’s basketball. I bet there’s not more than three schools in the country that can say that.”

Neither team could achieve much of an advantage for the majority of the contest. The two teams ended the first period tied at 14, the first half tied at 28, and regulation tied at 54, all before Utah surged to a decisive 13-4 run in overtime.

The sense of urgency was evident on both benches. In his final game as a Gael, Landale scored five points below his season average in points, but he corralled 15 rebounds, seven of them being offensive, granting his team much-needed extra possessions.

But in the end, timely shooting by the Utes proved key.

“The bottom line is they hit their threes, and we didn’t hit ours,” said Bennett. “It really gets down to that.”

Utah shot just 8-22 from beyond the arc in regulation, but they made four of five in overtime, when it counted most. The Utes were led by Sedrick Barefield (19 points) and Tyler Rawson (17 points), each of whom made five of their seven three-point attempts.

Two of the Gaels seniors put things in perspective after the hard-fought game.

“It’s just amazing to go through this ride and this journey with the guys in that locker room right there,” said Hermanson. “I’m not sure if any of us will experience something like that again.”

“The closeness of this team, and just how fun it is coming into the locker room, practicing…I’ll never forget that,” echoed Naar.

“We would have loved to play next week,” said Bennett. “But these guys won 30 games. They have nothing to hang their heads over.”

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