By Kimberly Paschal | Sports Editor

The Saint Mary’s Gaels sharpen their focus towards making a WCC Tournament run. (Courtesy of

Saint Mary’s basketball kicked off the WCC Tournament with the women’s team matching up against Pacific on Friday, followed by the men’s team taking on Pepperdine on Saturday night.

Women’s basketball made an early exit in the WCC Tournament this past Friday with a devastating loss to the Pacific Tigers. Going into the game, the Gaels faced a tough matchup with a guard-heavy Pacific.

The game looked promising for the Gaels in the first quarter, specifically when they built a nine-point lead midway through the first quarter. The Gaels even led 58-53 in the fourth quarter, but the Tigers weren’t giving in. Pacific changed the direction of the game with a late 13-1 run in the fourth quarter. This was the kicker for Saint Mary’s. With Pacific’s first team all-WCC guard GeAnna Luaulu Summers, the Gaels could not recover. Luaulu Summers scored 15 of her 20 points in the last quarter, and the Tigers’ guard-heavy team sped past the Gaels, who fell 77-73.

Megan McKay helped the Gaels go on a 14-5 run with assistance from her teammates and a strong defensive effort. The Tigers only shot 37.3 percent from the field compared to the Gaels 47.1 percent. The Gaels also outrebounded the Tigers 50-28 overall and 37 to 17 defensively.

Sydney Raggio led the Gaels in points, assists, rebounds, and steals. Senior Stella Beck led the Gaels in blocks and finished with 19 points and three assists. McKay finished with 17 points. Despite the usually scoring efforts from Raggio, Beck, and McKay, the Gaels starters were not able to carry the team. Pacific’s bench outscored the Gaels 31-5. The Tigers also took advantage and scored 30 points off of 29 Saint Mary’s turnovers.

Despite the tough loss, Beck and Raggio still seemed positive about this year’s team saying, “I think the best part about the season was the group of girls. We are so close and such good friends. It’s been fun when we have been playing well.” Raggio added, “This has been the closest team we have had ever since I have been here. It didn’t end how we wanted it to, but we made some great strides this season, beating Gonzaga. We had our highs and lows.”

The women’s basketball team is guaranteed to play in the 2018 postseason due to the second-place WCC finish. They will either be in the NCAA Tournament or the WNIT. Brackets for the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship will be announced March 12 at 4:00 p.m., while the WNIT brackets will be announced before 9:00 p.m. on March 12.

The men’s basketball team opened their tournament against the Pepperdine Waves on Saturday night. Fans experienced a nail-biter as the Gaels made a late push to defeat the Waves 69-66. Calvin Hermanson’s tremendous effort in the closing minutes helped seal the win for Saint Mary’s.

The Gaels struggled throughout the game. In the first 10 minutes, Saint Mary’s only shot 15.4 percent from the field, going only 2-for-13. Additionally, the team only had four points thanks to Jock Landale and Tanner Krebs.

The Gaels entered the second half trailing Pepperdine 35-34. With five missed shots, the Waves took the lead to 44-37. Saint Mary’s wasn’t finished.Entering the final 11 minutes of the second half, Landale showed the Waves why he is one of the candidates for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year and the John R. Wooden Award. Landale’s offensive efforts helped the Gaels go on a 7-0 run at the 10-minute mark. With the score 69-66 and under a minute to go, the Gaels’ defense sealed their victory.

Despite Saint Mary’s struggles, four Gaels scored in double-figures:  Jordan Ford, Landale, Emmett Naar, and Calvin Hermanson. Landale also had a career-high of 19 rebounds, making that his 18th double-double of the season.

The Gaels will face BYU on Monday, March 5 at 8:30 p.m.. The winner of that game will move on the the WCC Tournament Championship game at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 6.

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