Saint Mary’s won a close one over Notre Dame in the nightcap of the Maui Invitational Monday night, and it earned the Northern California school a spot in the tournament semifinals Tuesday night against Oregon.
In what was the closest game of the Invitational’s four opening-round games in Las Vegas Monday, Dan Fotu scored 22 points in 22 minutes off the bench in the 62-59 win. Fotu drained a 3-pointer with 49 seconds to play that gave the Gaels a 60-58 lead.
Notre Dame had a chance to send the game to overtime but couldn’t get a good shot off. The Gaels improved to 5-0 and won their first real nonconference test of the season.
Saint Mary’s is in the Maui Invitational for the first time in program history. The Gaels have won the past three meetings against Oregon, with the most recent on Dec. 12, 2009 in Eugene, Ore.
The Ducks (3-1) bounced back from a humbling loss to BYU last week with a 73-49 win over Chaminade earlier Monday evening, one that was expected but needed to restore some confidence in the team.
Oregon had a 42-18 edge in points in the paint against smaller Chaminade. The Ducks turned a tight first half into a blowout win in the second half with 61 percent shooting in the second 20 minutes.
Eric Williams Jr. scored 14 points, De’Vion Harmon added 13 and the Ducks put together a 9-0 run and an 11-0 spurt early in the second half to take control.
Oregon had 13 layups and five dunks for the game, taking advantage of its size and athleticism.
“I thought we were a little more physical in the second half, took the ball to the basket a little bit more like we wanted, had more assists in the second half,” Ducks head coach Dana Altman told the Oregon athletics website. “So I thought our ball movement was better. We’ve got a long ways to go, but I thought we made a step in the right direction (Monday).”
Oregon and Saint Mary’s have a common opponent this season, Texas Southern. The Ducks defeated the Tigers 83-66 in their season opener on Nov. 9, while Saint Mary’s got a 67-58 win over Texas Southern three nights later.
–Field Level Media