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Saint Mary's Advances to 2016 Men's Basketball Championship

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – The Saint Mary’s men’s basketball team advanced to the West Coast Conference championship game with an 81-66 win over Pepperdine on Monday night at the Orleans Arena. The Gaels improve to 27-4 with their eighth straight victory. 

Saint Mary’s shot 66.7 percent in the first-half and answered each Pepperdine rally in the second-half. The Gaels will play the winner of the BYU/Gonzaga semifinal game. The WCC Championship will be played on Tuesday at 6 p.m. 

Joe Rahon led the way for the Gaels with 18 points and four rebounds. Rahon went 7-for-12 from the field. Dane Pineau was also strong with 16 points on 8-for-10 shooting, adding nine rebounds.

Emmett Naar just missed a double-double with 14 points and nine assists. Calvin Hermanson added eight points including a key three-pointer with three minutes remaining. Kyle Clark finished with 11 points off the bench on 4-for-4 field-goals.

Saint Mary’s got off to a strong start taking a 7-2 lead at the first media timeout. Rahon swished a three-pointer from the corner to push the SMC lead to 13-4 at the 14:17 mark. Pineau would get the friendly roll on the next possession as the Gaels led 15-4 at the 13:44 mark forcing the Waves to call timeout.

The Gaels took a 20-6 lead at the 12:29 mark and hit their first 8-of-11 field-goals. Kyle Clark answered the Lamond Murray Jr. three-pointer to take a 29-13 lead at the 8:31 mark of the half. 

Rahon made up for a pair of missed free-throws by hitting a three-pointer at the 6:25 mark to give SMC a 19-point lead at 32-13. SMC upped the lead to 20 after Naar found Pineau on the pick-and-roll to lead 36-16 with 4:43 remaining.

Hermanson hit a three with just over a minute in the half to lift SMC in front 44-22. The Gaels would enter the half up 44-24.

The Gaels hit 66.7 percent from the field and turned the ball over just once. SMC held a 16-12 advantage on the boards and hit 6-of-14 from three-point range. Rahon had 14 at the break while Pineau added 10.

Saint Mary’s started strong in the second-half as the Gaels led 53-29 at the 15:17 media timeout after Naar found an open Pineau in the paint.

Pepperdine got the lead under 20 after a three-pointer by Jeremy Major but Clark answered with a three-pointer of his own and the Gaels led 60-38 with 11:33 remaining.

Pepperdine came within 60-47 after a 9-0 run and SMC called a timeout with 8:02 remaining. Rahon broke the SMC scoring drought with a driving score in the paint to push the lead back to 15. Murray finished a runner in the lane to pull Pepperdine within 62-50 at the 6:44 mark but Pineau got the Gaels right back on track with a basket in the paint.

The Waves got within 64-54 at the 5:27 mark. Naar picked up a big block on a three-pointer and would later drive the lane and score to give SMC a 66-54 lead at the 3:34 media timeout.

Hermanson hit a big three-pointer with three minutes remaining to push SMC back up by 15. The Gaels hit free-throws down the stretch to lock-up the 81-66 win.