MORAGA — For the second time in as many games, the University of San Francisco was on the wrong side of the scoreline against a West Coast Conference giant, losing 79-43 to Saint Mary’s on Thursday night at McKeon Pavilion.
While the game with Gonzaga last Saturday was close until late, this one never was.
On a night when the Dons dropped back to .500 (12-12) in decisive fashion and sank to 4-7 in conference play, here’s what you need to know …
The Dons led for exactly 21 seconds. Jordan Ratinho opened the evening with a bucket and that early 2-0 advantage was the last time the guests would have the lead. The demoralizing loss was an uncompetitive of a game as you’ll see, which makes sense when you consider the Dons’ shooting woes and the kind of run the Gaels have been on …
Saint Mary’s hasn’t lost since the end of November and its win streak now sits at 17. The Gaels ran their record to 22-2 (11-0 in the conference) with the beatdown of their cross-Bay neighbors. The last loss? Nov. 26.
Tanner Krebs went off early. Redshirt sophomore Tanner Krebs helped bury the Dons in the opening half. The guard was 4-for-5 from distance heading into the break, accounting for 12 points in 10 minutes. Krebs whiffed his only triple of the second half.
Another impressive night for the Australian center. Jock Landale was the high-point man, pouring in 26 points, while corralling 12 rebounds.
The Dons couldn’t buy a basket and faded fast. The Gaels shot their visitors out of the gym in the first half. With 6:33 to go in the period, USF head coach Kyle Smith had to call time, as the game was already rapidly spiraling out of control. At that point, Saint Mary’s was already up 28-14. The hosts were 6-for-10 from 3-point range and the Dons were 1-for-8.
The early shooting woes never let up (6-for-24 from distance and 18-for-57 from the field) and the Dons wilted.
“They pushed us around. I mean, it’s pretty obvious — you just watch the game,” Smith said. “I’m a little disappointed, honestly.”
In the opening half, Saint Mary’s dominated in rebounds (22 to 11) and assists (10 to 5).
“You can get down but I didn’t think we kept fighting,” Smith said. “They pushed us around, got every rebound and we hung our heads. And you can’t against a good team and they exposed us a little bit.”
Up next: a visit to Santa Clara on Saturday.
“Hopefully we’ve got 46 hours to try to get back and go on the road again [to] Santa Clara and see if we can right the ship,” Smith said.
The typically dynamic backcourt never showed up. Frankie Ferrari and Souley Boum have been the engine of the Dons. Against the Gaels backcourt — led by star point guard Emmett Naar — the Dons’ guards were non-factors. Boum and Ferrario combined to go 4-for-14 from the field, totaling nine points. For what it’s worth, no Don was in double figures.
Bennett took it to his old assistant. This was about as bad of a homecoming as Smith could have endured. The current Dons boss, who was an assistant on Bennett’s staff from 2001-2010, generally stomps along the sideline, barking orders at his players. Against the Gaels, Smith spent much of the second half anchored in his chair, with nothing to say.
“I hate it,” Bennett said when asked what it’s like to coach against his old assistant. “I don’t like it at all. I told him that before the game. You’ve got to play the game but I don’t like competing against him or his teams.”
“It takes a little bit of the fun of the win, honestly.”