7:05 PM ET, December 31, 2005
McKeon Pavilion, Moraga, California
MORAGA, Calif. (AP) -- A few minutes into the second half, Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett pulled Brett Collins aside and implored him to be more aggressive.
Collins took over the game by scoring 12 of his career-high 31 points during an 18-0 run that led Saint Mary's to just its second win over a ranked opponent in more than 30 years, 89-80 over Nevada (No. 21 ESPN/USA Today, No. 21) on Saturday.
"I said, 'Hey, it's time for you to go,''' Bennett said. "He hadn't touched the ball much. He hadn't had his opportunities to score. He started getting the ball. Once he got going it was a great effort on his part.''
After losing four starters from last season's NCAA tournament team, the Gaels were counting on Collins to pick the scoring load. Through the first 10 games, Collins had played better than a year ago but was far from where Saint Mary's needed him to be, averaging just 9.4 points.
Bennett hopes a performance like this can provide a big confidence boost to Collins, who had been disappointed with the way he started the season but has begun to come around of late.
"Coach just told me to be aggressive,'' Collins said. "I felt good the past few days. I felt like I was coming on to where I was supposed to be.''
Daniel Kickert added 17 points for the Gaels (6-5), who have won five of six. Saint Mary's only other win over a ranked opponent since 1974 came last season against Gonzaga.
After losing close games at home to Saint Joseph's and Rutgers, Saint Mary's hopes to take the momentum from this game and carry it over to next week's visit to TCU and then the start of conference season against Gonzaga.
"We have to use this to take into the next game and play with the same desire to get a win,'' Kickert said. "We can't just play that hard against a ranked team.''
Marcelus Kemp scored 22 points and Nick Fazekas added 21, but didn't score in the final 13:28 for Nevada (10-2), which had its 14-game road winning streak snapped. Mo Charlo chipped in 17 points for Nevada.
After Ramon Sessions' basket in the lane gave the Wolf Pack a 57-50 lead with 12:53 to play, Nevada didn't score again until Kemp's jumper with 7:59 to go.
Todd Golden started the Gaels' run with a 3-pointer on an out-of-bounds play and Collins took over shortly after that. He hit a 3-pointer, a scoop shot for a three-point play, two free throws, a driving hoop and made a steal that led to a fastbreak layup that capped the spurt and gave Saint Mary's a 68-57 lead.
Collins, who was 8-for-11 from the field and 12-for-13 from the free throw line, had his previous high in December 2004, when he scored 18 against Sacramento State.
Nevada, which came into the game allowing 61.6 points per game, allowed 55 in the second half alone when the Gaels shot 56 percent from the field and went to the foul line 27 times.
"This team has made zero progress in that area,'' Nevada coach Mark Fox said of the defense. "We have to do a better job defending people, we have to play defense without fouling, we have to keep people out of the lane and we have to keep people off the glass.''
Fox's players said the problem wasn't coaching, it was their execution.
"When things go bad for us he takes it on himself, but it wasn't his fault,'' Kemp said. "It's our fault because we drill this every single day.''
Kemp tried his best to get the Wolf Pack back into the game. Blake Sholberg answered Kemp's basket that stopped the run, giving the Gaels a 70-59 lead. Kemp then scored the next eight points of the game to cut it to three with just under 6 minutes left.
Diamon Simpson's putback ended that run and Collins followed with two free throws to build it back up to a seven-point lead.
The Wolf Pack were hurt again by key misses at the foul line. Sessions missed two free throws early in Saint Mary's big run and Demarshay Johnson missed a front end of a 1-and-1 with Nevada down only four with 3:28 to go.
They also got nothing from their best player down the stretch. After scoring 12 points in the first 6:32 of the second half, Fazekas didn't score again, sitting for long stretches of a time in the second half.
"I just wasn't getting my looks,'' Fazekas said.
Both teams struggled from the field in the first half, each having stretches of about 5 minutes without a basket. Nevada scored nine straight points early and Saint Mary's answered with seven in a row to take a 12-11 lead. The game stayed within three points the rest of the half with the Gaels leading 34-33 at the break.
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||30-59 (.508)||27-61 (.443)|
|3P Made-Attempted||3-8 (.375)||7-17 (.412)|
|FT Made-Attempted||17-23 (.739)||28-38 (.737)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||27 (0/0)||17 (0/0)|
|» Dec 31, 2005||@SMC 89, NEV 80||Recap|