SALT LAKE CITY -- Jock Landale scored 18 points and collected 13 rebounds for his 16th double-double of the season to lead seventh-seeded Saint Mary's to a 85-77 win over 10th-seeded VCU in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday.
Joe Rahon and Calvin Hermanson chipped in 16 points apiece for the Gaels, who had five players score in double figures. Saint Mary's (29-4) shot 55.6 percent from the field (25 of 45) and edged the Rams 37-29 in rebounds.
JeQuan Lewis scored 30 points to lead VCU. The Rams (26-9) rallied in the second half after falling behind by 15 points at halftime, but they could not overcome 15.4 percent shooting (2 of 13) from the perimeter.
VCU started out aggressive on offense. The Rams slashed to the rim repeatedly and made six layups in the first eight minutes. They took a 16-13 lead on the final one in that batch from Jonathan Williams.
Saint Mary's eventually imposed its usual defensive will as the first half progressed. A pair of baskets from Londale and back-to-back 3-pointers from Hermanson highlighted a 14-2 spurt that gave the Gaels a 27-18 lead with 7:31 left in the first half.
VCU could not stop it from happening. The Rams missed seven of eight shots over a five-minute stretch and went nearly three minutes without scoring.
Once in front, the Gaels simply buried VCU in an increasingly larger hole. Saint Mary's opened up its first double-digit lead on a dunk from Tanner Krebs and took its largest first-half lead at 46-29 behind back-to-back layups from Krebs and Emmett Naar.
Sloppy play opened the door for the Rams to rally after halftime. VCU capitalized on three consecutive Saint Mary's turnovers, scoring baskets on each one. Jordan Burgess punctuated the flurry by slashing to the rim for a layup and cutting the Gaels' lead to 54-45.
The Rams continued to chip away at the lead and pulled within 56-54 on a pair of free throws from Williams. Dane Pineau kept them from erasing the lead entirely. He blocked a layup attempt on one end and scored one of his own on the other. Rahon followed with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer a short time later, pushing the Gaels' lead to 63-56 with 8:17 remaining.
Hermanson dialed up a 3-pointer and threw down a dunk to put the Gaels back up by double digits, giving them a 73-63 lead with 4:34 left. Saint Mary's did not score another field goal after that point, but VCU could pull no closer than six points the rest of the way.
NOTES: VCU G JeQuan Lewis scored 30 or more points for just the second time this season. Lewis totaled a season-high 34 points against St. Joseph's on Feb. 14. ... Saint Mary's improved to 5-8 all-time in the NCAA Tournament. Four of those wins have come since 2009. ... The Rams scored 19 points off 15 Saint Mary's turnovers. VCU also coughed up nine turnovers, leading to 15 points for the Gaels. ... Saint Mary's had 13 assists on 25 field goals.