|7:00 PM PT8:00 PM MT9:00 PM CT10:00 PM ET3:00 PM GMT11:00 PM 北京时间8:00 PM MST10:00 PM EST, Feb 24, 2022
Jenny Craig Pavilion, San Diego, California Attendance: 1,043
No. 23 Saint Mary's aiming high with San Diego up next
After big wins over San Francisco and BYU that both ended in 69-64 scores, No. 23 Saint Mary's will begin the final week of the regular season Thursday at San Diego with a chance to clinch the No. 2 seed for the West Coast Conference tournament.
The Gaels (22-6, 10-3 WCC) re-entered the Top 25 poll on the heels of those solid victories, including Saturday's win over a BYU squad that had beaten them three times in a row and overcame a double-digit lead to make things interesting down the stretch.
Tommy Kuhse led the way for Saint Mary's with a season-high 25 points, while Logan Johnson (17 points, six rebounds) and Mattias Tass (10 points, seven rebounds) also made big contributions.
"Great college basketball game," said Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett, who credited the Cougars, his players and the fans for making the game feel like a pre-COVID-19 contest. "We're finally back. This is how it used be. It took us a while to get there, but it was an awesome home crowd -- two good teams going at it."
Saint Mary's has won two in a row and 10 of its last 12, putting itself in excellent position to not be matched against No. 1 Gonzaga until a potential WCC championship game in the upcoming tournament.
Saint Mary's also hosts the Zags in the regular-season finale Saturday. That game will likely have an even wilder college basketball scene in Moraga, Calif., if the Gaels can take care of business at San Diego (14-13, 7-7) on Thursday night.
The Toreros struggled against the Gaels at Saint Mary's two weeks ago, falling 86-57 in the teams' first match-up of the season. San Diego comes into the rubber match having lost four of its last five games.
Johnson carried the Gaels in their win over the Toreros earlier this month. He had 16 points, a career-high nine rebounds and five steals. Kuhse scored 13 and Alex Ducas chipped in with 12 points.
Their efforts against San Diego helped the Gaels win after falling to Santa Clara in what was their first loss in a month.
"It was really important to get out to a good start tonight just for ourselves, our confidence," Johnson said. "Before the game even started we came in here and were like, 'We have to be the first team to punch somebody in the mouth. We can't just keep taking shots.'"
The Gaels stormed ahead by 21 points by halftime and then continued the rout with an 8-0 run to open the second half en route to their 15th consecutive win over San Diego.
Marcellus Earlington scored 14 points with eight rebounds to lead San Diego, which has slumped in the second half of the WCC season.
San Diego is coming off a 92-60 road loss to Portland last Thursday.
The Toreros finish the regular season at home vs. San Francisco on Saturday. The WCC tournament runs from March 3-8 in Las Vegas.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 22, 2022