Weber State rallies in 2nd half to upset No. 23 Saint Mary's
Sun, Nov 12, 2023
NCAAB News (AP)
MORAGA, Calif. (AP) - Dillon Jones scored a career-high 29 points and had 10 rebounds, and Weber State rallied from 14 down in the second half to stun No. 23 Saint Mary's 61-57 on Sunday night.
Jones, a unanimous preseason pick to be MVP in the Big Sky, had nine points as part of a 23-4 run midway through the second half that erased a 49-35 deficit and put the Wildcats (2-0) ahead to stay after they trailed the entire first half.
"Call my bluff if you want but I came in tonight expecting to win," Jones said. " After we did the starting lineups I told the team, 'The reason the higher-level teams beat lower-level teams is because they just give them a certain respect. I told (my teammates) we're not going to give them respect.
"I was almost in tears telling the team that because I emotionally really thought we could win. It's one thing to say it. It's another thing to actually do it."
Aidan Mahaney and Harry Wessels each scored 11 points to pace the Gaels (2-1).
Neither team shot well from the perimeter. Saint Mary's was 5 of 27 (18.5%) on 3-pointers. Weber State went 6 of 21 (28.6%) beyond the arc.
The Gaels were sloppy over the final five minutes and committed three of their 15 turnovers, a problem that plagued Saint Mary's in its win over New Mexico earlier in the week.
"Concerned. Not very good there," Gaels coach Randy Bennett said. "We keep turning the ball over, not shooting it well. We didn't play well enough at either end of the floor to pull that thing out."
With several NBA scouts in attendance as well as his brother, Jones picked the perfect night to have his career game. He shot 11 of 20 and overcame five turnovers to lead the Wildcats to the win.
The Wildcats' victory wasn't a total surprise. With all five starters back from last season's team that finished 18-15, Weber State is favored to win the Big Sky.
"The message is just that we are a good team, a good collective group of guys," Jones said. "We're not just going to five people respect because of their name. We will be able to show up and play."
Weber State: The Wildcats first win in five all-time games between the two schools, and it was a big one. While Jones did the chunk of scoring, his teammates kept their cool and chipped away at the leads until they took control.
Saint Mary's: The Gaels had too many self-inflicted wounds and are likely to drop out of the Top 25 after this loss. Bennett has spoken to his team several times about the mistakes the Gaels were making but it didn't see to make much difference.
Weber State: Plays Gardener-Webb in the Atlantic Slam in Canada on Friday, the first of three games in three days for the Wildcats.
Saint Mary's: Faces No. 17 San Diego State in the Continental Tires Main Event in Las Vegas on Friday.
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