MORAGA, Calif. (AP) Augustus Marciulionis scored a career-high 28 points and Alex Ducas beat the halftime buzzer with a halfcourt shot to lead No. 18 Saint Mary's to its 13th straight win, 103-59 over Pepperdine on Thursday night.

The Gaels (21-6, 12-0 West Coast Conference) celebrated their return to the AP Top 25 for the first time since the opening week of the season with another dominant victory to match No. 1 UConn for the longest active winning streak in the country.

“We eventually wore them down and got a little separation,” coach Randy Bennett said. “Once you do, the basket gets a little bigger for us and a little smaller for them. I just think we wore them down. That halfcourt shot at half helped. We were in a pretty good position. But it took us a while to get to that position. Then going in up 16 helped us a lot.”

Nine wins during this streak for Saint Mary's have come by double digits, and the Gaels have opened a 2 1/2-game lead in the conference over San Francisco and Gonzaga.

Ducas added 18 points and Aidan Mahaney scored 13 for Saint Mary’s. The Gaels made 32 of their last 41 shots from the field.

“I don’t think teams really like to grind with us and grit with us on defense for 40 minutes,” Ducas said. "We kind of have an attitude as a team to break them. Let’s see how long they can go before they break. ... No team is going to want to grind with us for 40 minutes. No team wants to do it hard and tough for that long.”

Jevon Porter had 13 points to lead Pepperdine (10-17, 3-9). The Waves have lost seven of eight.

The Gaels shot poorly early, making just 10 of their first 27 shots from the field. But they pulled away late in the first half by making five straight shots that included four 3-pointers during a 14-2 run that opened a 14-point lead.

Ducas then made his buzzer-beater to make it 43-27 at the break, and Saint Mary's was never threatened in the second half.

“I’ve never actually made a (halfcourt) shot," Ducas said. "I've seen a few people make it this year. I’ve heard it was free beer for a year. I'll talk to somebody around here, but I made a halfcourt shot right around halftime so I’m sure it counts for something.”


Pepperdine: The Waves struggled to get good looks early against Saint Mary's stout halfcourt defense. They didn't score for the first 4:14 and made only eight baskets in the first half.

Saint Mary's: The Gaels have shaken off a rough start to the season that included a 1-5 stretch that dropped them to 3-5 on Dec. 1. They have won 17 of 18 since then and are in good position to make the NCAA Tournament in three straight seasons for the first time in school history.


The Gaels were without forward Joshua Jefferson, who had started all 26 games this season, averaging 10.2 points and 6.5 rebounds. He injured his left leg last weekend at Portland and underwent an MRI. Bennett said he should have a better idea on the severity of the injury in a few days.


Pepperdine: Hosts Portland on Saturday night.

Saint Mary's: Hosts San Francisco on Tuesday night.


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