Saint Mary’s beats Cal State Bakersfield 94-66 to move to 3-0
MORAGA, Calif. (AP)—Omar Samhan scored 15 of his career-high 25 points in the first half, leading Saint Mary’s to a 94-66 victory over Cal State Bakersfield on Tuesday night and its first 3-0 start in 12 years.
Samhan, a 6-foot-11 sophomore center who worked hard in the offseason to get in better shape, shot 11-for-15, also grabbed six rebounds and blocked four shots for the Gaels.
Ian O’Leary had 19 points and scored seven straight early in the second half as the game turned into a rout and Tron Smith had 11 points for Saint Mary’s, which last started 3-0 during the 1995-96 season but managed only nine more victories the rest of the way.
The Gaels used a balanced offensive attack, taking a 20-point lead on Carlin Hughes’ two free throws with 11:26 to play. Patty Mills and Hughes, two of four Australians playing for Saint Mary’s, combined for 10 assists, with Mills getting six and also making five steals. Todd Golden dished out five assists to go with nine points.
Seventh-year coach Randy Bennett, who last month received a two-year contract extension that could keep him at the school through 2013, has one of his deepest rosters yet during his tenure.
Picked to finish second in the West Coast Conference behind No. 14 Gonzaga, this was the Gaels’ final tuneup before playing 11th-ranked Oregon next Tuesday night in a sold-out game on their home floor at McKeon Pavilion—a matchup certain to generate the same kind of excitement and energy from the fans as any rivalry game with the Zags.
Ducks coach Ernie Kent coached at Saint Mary’s from 1991-97.
Terrence Johns scored 19 points and Cory Brown had 14 points and seven rebounds for the Roadrunners (0-2), who are playing their first full season in Division I after making the transition from Division II.
Saint Mary’s missed its first six 3-pointers but still shot 49 percent in the first half for a 47-32 lead at the break, getting Golden’s 3 moments before the buzzer sounded.
The Gaels have won four of the five meetings between the schools, with all of those victories coming in Moraga. Saint Mary’s won 65-57 last year.