Simpson scores 23 in Saint Mary’s win
MORAGA, Calif. (AP)—Diamon Simpson had 23 points and nine rebounds to lead Saint Mary’s to a 79-58 victory over San Francisco on Thursday.
The Gaels won for the first time without injured star Patrick Mills.
Omar Samhan added 12 points for the Gaels (19-3, 6-2), who moved into a second-place tie with Portland in the West Coast Conference.
Dior Lowhorn, the WCCs scoring leader at 20.3 points per game entering the game, paced San Francisco (9-14, 1-7) with 12 points. Kwame Vaughn added 11.
Saint Mary’s never trailed in the game. The Gaels went on a 13-0 run over seven minutes in the second half to build their largest lead at 64-30 with more than nine minutes remaining.
The Gaels did it without Mills, the leading scorer for Australia in the Beijing Olympics. Mills underwent surgery Wednesday to insert a screw into his broken right hand and is expected to miss four weeks. He sustained the injury last week near the end of the first half against Gonzaga.
The Gaels, who were ranked No. 22 last week, could not hold onto a six-point halftime lead in the loss to Gonzaga. Saint Mary’s then fell to Portland, 84-66, two nights later.
Mills, second in the conference with an 18.7-point average, could return in time for the conference tournament March 6-9 in Las Vegas.
The Gaels extended their win streak against San Francisco to seven games. They have now won 11 of their past 12 games against the Dons.
Wayne Hunter, getting his first starting assignment of the season, had seven points, six assists and six rebounds for the Gaels.
Simpson, who tops the Saint Mary’s record books in rebounds and blocked shots, moved into fifth place on the Gaels all-time scoring list with 1,418 career points. He made his first eight field-goal attempts against USF, including two 3-pointers.
The Gaels took a 30-20 lead with 3:35 remaining in the first half when Hunter fed Simpson underneath for a dunk. Saint Mary’s closed out the half on a 17-5 run.
The Gaels shot 56 percent from the floor in the first half, while San Francisco connected on just 38 percent of its shots.
Samhan made a short jumper to give the Gaels a 36-22 lead at the intermission. Simpson scored 17 points in the first half.