Jock Landale posted his 16th “double-double” this season as the 6-11 Australian junior had 18 points and 13 rebounds to lead 2017 Wooden Legacy participant Saint Mary’s to an 85-77 victory over Virginia Commonwealth in the opening round of the NCAA tournament’s West Regional in Salt Lake City Thursday
The seventh-seeded Gaels (29-4) from the West Coast Conference led most of the way, but had to fight to hold on after the 10th-seeded VCU (26-9) defensive pressure started to become too much in the second half. Junior 6-6 forward Calvin Hermanson finished with 16 points for Saint Mary’s.
The win was Saint Mary’s second victory over an Atlantic 10 school this season as the Gaels won 61-57 at Dayton in mid-November. Dayton captured the A10 regular-season title with a 15-3 mark while VCU was second at 14-4.
Saint Mary’s led 46-31 at the intermission after a 23-6 run highlighted by back-to-back three-pointers from Hermanson. The Gaels, who dropped three of its four games to West Coast rival Gonzaga this season, shot 64 percent in the first half (four-for-nine three-point shooting effort).
With the win, the Gaels will play second-seeded Arizona (31-4) Saturday with the winner advancing to the West Regional “sweet 16” in San Jose, Calif. Other West Region winners Thursday were No. 1 Gonzaga (33-1), No. 3 Florida State (26-8), No. 4 West Virginia (27-8), No. 5 Notre Dame (26-9), No. 8 Northwestern (24-11) and No. 11 Xavier (22-13).
The other Salt Lake City game Saturday while have Gonzaga meeting Northwestern. West Virginia meets Notre Dame in Buffalo Saturday while Xavier challenges Florida State in Orlando.
The 2017 Wooden Legacy will be played at two sites in southern California November 23, 24, and 26. Cal State Fullerton will host the first two days of the 2017 Wooden Legacy on its campus at Titan Gym November 23 and 24. The placement games will be played November 26 at Honda Center in Anaheim.
Cal State Fullerton (Big West, 17-15), who will be making its third appearance in the Wooden Legacy this Thanksgiving, ended its season Thursday by dropping an 80-76 decision to Weber State (20-13) of the Big Sky in the CollegeInsider.com tournament.
Khalil Ahmad and Kyle Allman led CS Fullerton as the sophomore guards combined for 33 points, nine rebounds, six assists and one steal. Ahmad, who did not play in CSF’s first 11 games this season, scored 18 points to lead the Titans while grabbing six rebounds and being credited with three assists.
Other schools in the 2017 Wooden Legacy are DePaul (Big East, 9-23), Georgia (Southeastern, 19-15), Harvard (Ivy League, 18-10), Saint Joseph’s (Atlantic 10, 11-20), San Diego State (Mountain West, 19-14) and Washington State (Pac-12 Conference, 13-18).
Playing without their second- and third-leading scorers, Georgia season ended Wednesday after dropping a 78-69 decision to Belmont in the opening round of the NIT. Juniors Yante Maten and Juwan Parker missed the game for the Bulldogs.
Maten, the Southeastern Conference’s fourth-leading scorer (18.2 points per game), suffered a setback from his knee sprain following the conference tournament, while Parker suffered a partial tear to his right Achilles.
Georgia, which used 10-point scoring efforts by sophomore William Jackson II and freshman Tyree Crump, pulled to 72-64 with 3:23 remaining but didn’t get closer. A pair of guards, Jackson and Crump combined for all four successful three-point attempts for the Bulldogs.