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UT Arlington beats Saint Mary's for first win vs. Top 25 team

MORAGA, Calif. -- Before the game, Scott Cross reminded his UT Arlington players they had a chance to make their mark on program history.

"He was like, `This would be the biggest win in school history," guard Erick Neal said. "That just added fire to it and made us want to play harder."

Kevin Hervey scored 15 points and UTA beat a Top 25 team for the first time, shocking previously unblemished No. 12 Saint Mary's 65-51 on Thursday night just more than a week after another special and emotional win at Texas.

The Mavericks (8-3) had gone 0-28 against ranked opponents dating to their first try in February 1967 after becoming Division I in 1959-60. Then, they pulled off their big upset at McKeon Pavilion, where the Gaels had won eight straight and 23 of 24, and cheers were heard from the visiting locker room.

But Saint Mary's (6-1) never clicked against the scrappy UTA team while returning from a break for final exams for its first game since a win at Stanford on Nov. 30. The Gaels were held to 31.4 percent from the field and shot 8 of 27 on 3-pointers.

"I thought we got outplayed. Pretty simple," Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said. "I thought they beat us at every phase."

The speedy Neal added 13 points and eight assists in UTA's seventh straight victory.

"It was definitely an unbelievable game for us," Cross said. "Our guys probably played as good of basketball as we could have, especially defensively, because watching them on video I honestly thought it was the best offensive team I think I've ever seen in my entire life."

Jock Landale had a rare poor shooting performance, limited to 14 points on 3 of 10 from the floor and the Gaels had a season-low 11 assists to go with 16 turnovers.

Saint Mary's trailed 49-30 with 11:50 to play, then used an 11-3 spurt to get back to 52-41. UTA kept answering on both ends with key baskets and rebounds -- such as a contested 3-pointer from the top by Drew Charles with 7:42 remaining.

The Mavericks, from the Sun Belt Conference, used quick, crisp passing to create open looks from the perimeter and the paint to outplay the Gaels early. Three times this season -- their lone three previous losses -- squandered double-digit halftime leads in road losses at Minnesota, Florida Gulf Coast and Arkansas.

They used those defeats as learning moments that have carried UTA during this run of early season success.

"It's a humongous deal," Hervey said. "We're excited and hopefully we can build on this."

Hervey hit his first three shots as UTA jumped to a 21-12 lead midway through the first half and led 36-23 at the break.

Saint Mary's fell behind 21-12 and 27-15 late in the first half making just 6 of its first 18 shots and 2 of 6 by the typically spot-on Landale.

"Defensively we weren't good, offensively we weren't good," Bennett said. "Taking care of the ball we were bad. Rebounding we were bad."

MOMENT OF SILENCE

A moment of silence was held before the national anthem for the victims of the deadly warehouse fire last week in nearby Oakland.

BIG PICTURE

UTA: UTA held a 36-30 rebounding edge. ... The Mavericks have led at halftime in all of their games. ... UTA followed up a 99-49 victory against Division III UT Dallas by outplaying one of nation's top programs in all aspects.

Saint Mary's: Calvin Hermanson, 21 of 40 from 3-point range coming into the game, went 1 for 7 from beyond the arc. ... Landale's shooting percentage dropped from 76 percent to a 70-percent clip (54 for 77).

UP NEXT

UTA: Off until playing Dec. 16 at Bradley.

Saint Mary's: Host UC Irvine on Sunday after the Anteaters lost last month in overtime at California. Seventh-year Irvine coach Russell Turner is a former Golden State Warriors and Stanford assistant.

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More AP college basketball: www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

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