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Saint Mary's clinches one seed, share of WCC title with 84-72 win over San Francisco

Randy Bennett's Gaels completed one of the more surprisingly successful regular seasons in recent WCC history.

Saint Mary's Calvin Hermanson had a career night.
Saint Mary's Calvin Hermanson had a career night.
James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Despite all the pressure it didn't seem like anything out of the ordinary for Saint Mary's, as the Gaels put on yet another show tonight in San Francisco.

With the win Saint Mary's (23-4, 15-3) has earned a share of the West Coast Conference regular season title, split with Gonzaga (a team the Gaels swept this season). It's the program's seventh and the third under head coach Randy Bennett. They also take one seed in next week's WCC Tournament thanks to that aforementioned sweep of the Zags.

Against the Dons (15-14, 9-9) the Gaels shot 51.8% from the field and 39.1% from three, hallmarks of this best-in-the-nation shooting offense. Sophomore Calvin Hermanson scored a career high 24 points, made six of 10 three pointers and pulled down eight rebounds.

San Francisco got a fantastic 27 point, 11 rebound performance out of senior guard Tim Derksen in his last game on the Hilltop. Devin Watson added 16 points.

Emmett Naar added 19 points for Saint Mary's, to go along with six assists.

Saint Mary's was in control throughout, repeatedly holding the Dons scoreless for extended stretches — San Francisco is one of the most high-octane teams in the WCC, so that's a testament to the overlooked quality on the defensive end of the floor for the Gaels — and held a multi-possession lead for nearly the entire game.

It's another step in the right direction for this overachieving Gaels team.

Picked fourth in the preseason coaches poll, Saint Mary's has been phenomenal all season long despite losing all five starters from last year's NIT team. A season sweep of Gonzaga and a season split with BYU haven't quite been enough to lock up a trip to the Big Dance, however. An incredibly weak non-conference schedule and two unfortunate losses to Pepperdine have put Saint Mary's square on the NCAA Tournament bubble. Along with WCC-foes Gonzaga and BYU.

A share of the regular season title and the top seed in the conference tournament is just another example of this team taking care of business. The WCC has been Gonzaga's league. And it still is, if the media coverage of the Zags' disappointing season over the Gaels' impressive season is any indication. But don't be fooled. March is just around the corner and Saint Mary's is ready to make some noise.