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WCC Men's Basketball Recaps

Dec. 20, 2007

Saint Mary's - 64
Tulane - 57

Honolulu, HI - In its first trip to the Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classis, Saint Mary's defeated the Tulane Green Wave 64-57 on Thursday evening from the Stan Sheriff Center. The Gaels were led by Patrick Mills, who scored a game-high 23 points. By winning their first ever game in the Rainbow Classic, the Gaels improve to 8-1 on the season.

With the victory over Tulane, head coach Randy Bennett collected his 110th career win at Saint Mary's. The victory tied Bennett for the most wins in the history of the Saint Mary's men's basketball program, matching James Weaver's 46 year old record.

The only other player for the Gaels to score in double figures was Omar Samhan, who scored eight of his 11 points in the second half. Carlin Hughes added nine points and Diamon Simpson, who finished with a game-high 11 rebounds, had seven points.

The Gaels had a tough shooting night against the Green Wave, making just 21-of-58 shots overall, to shot 36.2 percent from the floor. SMC struggled more from behind the arc, making just 4-of-23 shots from long range to shot 17 percent from 3-point land.

Where the Gaels made up for the tough shooting night was on the defensive end of the floor. The Green Wave turned the ball over 19 times, and with the exception of the three pointer at the buzzer, Tulane made just 2-of-8 shots from behind the arc, and went 23-of-58 (39.7 %) from the floor in the game.

Saint Mary's opened the game by taking a 10-7 lead over the first four minutes. Mills scored seven of the first 10 points for the Gaels. After SMC opened 16-8 advantage at the 13:10 mark, Tulane went on an 8-2 run to cut the Gaels' lead to 17-16 less than three minutes later.

The Gaels were held without a basket for more than five minutes, until Mills scored a lay-up at the 8-minute mark. Mills' basket sparked a 13-2 run by Saint Mary's, as the Gaels opened a 30-18 advantage with two minutes left until halftime. Saint Mary's led by 12 points (32-20) at halftime.

Mills finished the first half with 15 of Gaels' 32 points, going 7-for-12 from the floor. Saint Mary's forces the Green Wave into 13 first half turnovers, which resulted in 10 points for the Gaels.

The Gaels maintained their double-digit lead throughout most of the second half, but saw its lead slip to seven points (39-32) when Kevin Sims scored a lay-up with 12:13 left in the game. SMC answered with baskets by Mills and Omar Samhan to open a 43-32 lead.

Tulane would eventually cut the lead to single digits in the waning minute of the game as the team's traded free throws. A three pointer by Kris Richard at the buzzer gave the Gaels a 64-57 win in the first meeting between the two schools.

Saint Mary's will continue action in the Rainbow Classic on Friday night against either Georgia or East Tennessee State. The game between SMC and Georgia/East Tennessee State will begin at 5:00 pm Hawaii Time from the Stan Sheriff Center.

Oklahoma - 72
Gonzaga - 68

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Longar Longar scored 16 points, including the go-ahead basket, and Oklahoma overcame a scintillating performance by Gonzaga's Jeremy Pargo to upset the No. 18 Bulldogs 72-68 Thursday night.

For a time, it appeared Pargo would will Gonzaga (9-3) to victory with the most impressive performance of his career but he ran dry with just enough time for Oklahoma (9-3) to rally.

Pargo hit five straight shots and scored all of the Zags' points during a 12-5 surge that propelled Gonzaga into the lead late in the second half but then couldn't connect in crunch time to finish the game.

After Pargo's airball on a 3-pointer from the right wing, Oklahoma took a 67-66 lead on Longar's right-handed hook shot in the lane with 1:38 remaining and then hit enough free throws down the stretch to hang on.

Pargo, who scored a career-high 28 points, had two final chances to tie it. After Blake Griffin hit one of two free throws to give Oklahoma a 70-68 lead, Pargo charged under the basket and missed a layup underneath with 12 seconds left.

He had another opportunity when David Godbold also hit only one of two at the foul line, but Austin Johnson blocked Pargo's 3-point try, tracked down the loose ball and then hit one free throw with 0.2 seconds left to provide the final margin.

"Jeremy brings a lot of confidence. I never worry about that," Gonzaga head coach Mark Few said. "It would have been nice if he would have had some company tonight."

Pargo was the only Bulldog to score in double figures, hitting 11-of-18 shots from the field, including 4-of-8 from 3-point range.

The Bulldogs, however, saw OSU shoot 65.4 percent from the field in the second half after holding the Cowboys to 25.7 percent in the opening half. "We let them shoot 65 percent in the second half after doing a pretty good job in the first half. We gave up point blank layins, we weren't shifting on defense and to their credit they hit some big shots," Few noted. "We got no stops the last seven or eight possessions and we were a sieve."

On the last chance for the tie, Few said Pargo "probably should have brought it a little faster, but he felt comfortable all night and he said he was just working to get a comfortable shot."

The Bulldogs entered the game a little banged up. Guard Matt Bouldin was a game-time decision after sitting out last Monday's game with a calf pull and a sprained ankle. He played 26 minutes. "P>Micha Downs suffered a cut in the back of the head midway through the second half that required seven staples to close - without the benefit of numbing.

The game also featured the return of Josh Heytvelt to the lineup for the first time since last February when he was suspended for the final nine games of the regular and post season, and then had surgery Nov. 12 to repair an injured ankle. Heytvelt played 15 minutes.

"It was good to be back on the court, but I didn't play very well," he said.

But Few said Heytvelt will get better. "We made the decision today. He wanted to play. I wanted him to get more time to get in game shape and to get more reps, but the foot is safe so we decided to play him. It's just a matter of him getting into game shape," Few said. The Bulldogs will break for Christmas before returning to the practice floor Dec. 26 to begin preparations for The Battle in Seattle against the University of Tennessee, ranked 12th by both Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN.

Griffin and Tony Crocker each scored 15 points, and Griffin had 14 rebounds as Oklahoma won its second straight game after a disappointing loss to Stephen F. Austin.