The Saint Mary’s Gaels were able to hold off a late rally from the Drake Bulldogs Saturday night at McKeon Pavilion, improving to 4-0 with a 67-63 win.
It was a slow start for both Gaels and Bulldogs (2-1). The first four-plus minutes of play resulted in a 3-0 Gael lead. Saint Mary’s rallied and was able to get ahead by 10, 16-6, with 11:45 remaining causing Drake to call a timeout. The Gaels were able to pull away by as many as 15 late in the first half. Although both teams overall shot poorly, the Gaels were able to go to the locker room with a 33-23 halftime lead.
For the first half, the Gaels went 14-for-37 from the floor (37.8 percent) and were 3-for-13 from behind the arc (23.1 percent). The Bulldogs went 9-for-24 (37.5 percent) and were 1-for-4 (25 percent) from threes.
Leading the way for the Gaels was James Walker with nine and Stephen Holt had seven. For the Bulldogs, Daddy Ugbede had nine and Richard Carter had five.
In the second half, the game would take a wild ride as the Gaels started off with a quick 8-0 run forcing a Drake timeout to regroup with 16:55 to play. Drake would not give up. They were able to cut into the Gael lead, closing the gap to eight with 10:33 remaining in the game. With 9:32 to play, off a Gary Ricks 3-pointer, the Bulldogs would be within seven at 49-42.
Ricks was then fouled by Brad Waldow with 8:51 to play which gave him two free throws and five unanswered points. This closed the gap to within five. Ricks stayed hot stunning the Gael defense. With 6:42 remaining, off another two from Ricks, the Gael lead was cut to a basket with the score 53-51. Randy Bennett called a much needed timeout for the Gaels.
The Bulldogs gave the Gaels and fans quite a scare in the second half, but they were never were able to pull in front. The Gaels tamed the Bulldogs by hitting crucial last minute free-throws and picked up their fourth straight win at home.
It was a poor shooting performance overall for both teams tonight. The Gaels went 25-for-62 (40.3 percent) from the floor which was well below their season average of 52.3 percent. (34th in the nation) The Bulldogs were also well below their season average of 54.3 percent (17th in the nation). They went 20-for-56 (35.7 percent) from the floor.
The Gaels had four players in double digits tonight. Leading way was Beau Levesque with 16. Brad Waldow had 15, Walker had 13, and Holt had 10.
For the Bulldogs, Carter had 18, Ugbede had 11, and Ricks finished with nine.
From the benches, St. Mary’s had 11, while Drake had 29.
The Gaels next host Alcorn State on Nov. 24. The early tipoff time is 5:30 p.m. Pacific.