Saint Mary's forward Calvin Hermanson hits one of the four 3-pointers he made against USF on Thursday night. (Jacob C. Palmer/S.F. Examiner)

USF can’t solve Saint Mary’s dilemma

MORAGA — The Saint Mary’s men’s basketball team has a simple and tested strategy: Pound the ball inside early, and hit shots from the outside late.

An upstart University of San Francisco team was able to withstand the early part of the attack on Thursday night at McKeon Pavilion, but the game got out of control for the Dons once the Gaels started letting the long-balls fly.

Saint Mary’s (ranked No. 21 nationally) outscored USF, 36-16, in the second half — leading to a 66-46 win to sweep the season series.

“They smelled it on us a little bit that a little doubt crept in and they turned us over and got some easy buckets,” first-year Dons head coach Kyle Smith said afterwards.

The game turned on Smith’s squad quickly. One moment, USF forced a tie, the next Saint Mary’s ripped off 14-straight points. Smith worked hard to earn a technical foul during that process.

“I was kind of pissed,” he admitted.

But his sideline histrionics weren’t enough to stem the tide as the Dons shot 6-for-21 over the final 16 minutes.

The missed shots and six turnovers set the Gaels up nicely for open looks in transition and put USF in scramble-mode, which isn’t a good place to be considering Saint Mary’s considerable number of shooters. Emmett Naar and the bespectacled Calvin Hermanson each scored a game-high 18 points, combining to shoot 6-for-10 from deep.

“You’ve got to play well. You can’t give them any freebies and we did that,” Smith said.

The Gaels have beaten the Dons 23 out of the last 24 times they’ve played. But SMC head coach Randy Bennett, who Smith used to serve as an assistant coach, said there’s reason to be hopeful on the Hilltop.

“I think they’re good,” he said. “We played really well the second half. I knew that was going to be a tough game.”

College SportsKyle Smithsaint mary'sUniversity of San Franciscousf donsWCCWest Coast Conference

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at

Just Posted

Bay Area’s future could include a lot more remote work

Regional planning agency approved long-term work-from-home strategy to reduce emissions

SFUSD reopening plan slowly taking shape

Six private schools among first to get waivers to resume in-person teaching

What an odd, half full city San Francisco has become

Despite feeling empty, mad and sad, we can make changes by getting out the vote

Ad-libbing Bruce Dern makes the most of his dialogue

Acting veteran stars as man facing dementia in ‘The Artist’s Wife’

Most Read