SAN DIEGO — Saint Mary's knows it has little room for error when it comes to accomplishing its goals for this season. So Jock Landale and company took rebuilding San Diego quite seriously on Saturday night.
Landale and Calvin Hermanson scored 14 points apiece, and the 18th-ranked Gaels rolled to a 71-27 victory over the Toreros.
Saint Mary's (21-2, 11-2 West Coast Conference) limited San Diego to just nine field goals in its sixth straight victory. The Gaels shot 51 percent (26 for 51) from the field, compared to 19.6 percent (9 for 46) for the Toreros.
Saint Mary's went 29-6 last year, but was passed over when the field for the NCAA Tournament was announced. Two conference losses to Pepperdine helped derail the Gaels' chance for an at-large bid after they lost to Gonzaga in the WCC final.
"We always hold a chip on our shoulder because we didn't get there last year," Landale said. "And that is something we are striving for this year."
Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said what happened last season left the Gaels with an "interesting perspective."
"They did what they were supposed to do last year and then we lost in the championship game and didn't get in the NCAA Tournament," Bennett said. "So they understand how hard it is. There is a lot of pressure."
Olin Carter III led San Diego (11-13, 4-8) with 11 points. None of his teammates had more than three points.
The Toreros have dropped four of five.
"I think we took the right shots early; we took shots that we make in games," San Diego coach Lamont Smith said. "Unfortunately the shots didn't fall and I think we got a little defeated."
Bennett's biggest concern was his players easing up after building a big lead. That issue popped up in Thursday's 74-70 win over Pacific.
"Against Pacific we got up 17 points and it got that thing back to a one-possession game," Bennett said. "And we use that as a reference point. That is something this group has to get better at: taking it from 10 to 15 from 15 to 20 and tonight we did that. I was proud of our guys."
Smith is interested to see how his guys respond.
"It's a great thing for our basketball team to hit some adversity," Smith said. "Are we going to lie down or are we going to come out swinging and fighting?"
Saint Mary's led 32-9 at halftime and cruised to a season sweep of San Diego.
Saint Mary's: The Gaels played with an edge, and maybe Saturday's results around college basketball helped their cause. With several teams ranked above Saint Mary's losing before it took the court, Bennett's squad turned in an impressive performance.
San Diego: The Toreros are rebuilding under Smith, a former San Diego player and ex-Saint Mary's assistant. They have two more wins than last season already, but they were overwhelmed by the talented Gaels.
Saint Mary's hosts Portland on Thursday. The Gaels beat the Pilots 74-33 earlier this season.
San Diego visits Pacific on Thursday. The Toreros lost 56-53 to the Tigers on Jan. 5.