Gaels lose Jefferson to season-ending injury

Gaels lose Jefferson to season-ending injury

Saint Mary’s (22-6 straight up, 14-12 against the spread) extended its winning streak to 14 games last night when it knocked off San Francisco 70-66 as a 7.5-point home favorite.

However, head coach Randy Bennett announced after the game that starting power forward Joshua Jefferson will miss the rest of the season due to a knee injury sustained in a Feb. 10 win at Portland.

Jefferson, a 6-foot-8 sophomore from Las Vegas, was averaging 10.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He had scored in double figures six times in the last nine games.

Jefferson posted four double-doubles this year. He produced 16 points, 11 rebounds and four assists in a 64-62 win at Gonzaga earlier this month.

“Joshua gives us a lot. He’s become a really good player,” Bennett said this past Saturday after a win over Pepperdine. “So those are big shoes to fill.”

In the Gaels’ last two games without Jefferson, swingman Alex Ducas has taken on a bigger scoring load. He played only 21 minutes against the Waves but still managed to produce 18 points and four rebounds on 7-of-9 shooting from the field.

Then in 37 minutes against the Dons last night, Ducas finished with 18 points and six boards. He’s averaging 9.5 points and 5.2 rebounds per game while hitting 40.9 percent of his 3-pointers.

Since losing a 63-60 decision to Boise St. on Dec. 1 in Idaho Falls, Saint Mary’s is 19-1 SU and 12-8 ATS.

The Gaels, who own the nation’s longest current winning streak, are currently #15 in the NET rankings and #23 at KenPom. They’re 4-2 in Quad-1 games, 3-2 versus Quad-2 opponents, 4-2 against Quad-3 foes and 10-0 in Q4 games.

In Joe Lunardi’s latest edition of ‘Bracketology’ that was released yesterday morning prior to Saint Mary’s win over San Francisco, it was a #6 seed slated to face Grand Canyon in a Midwest Region matchup in Omaha.

Bennett’s team has three regular-season games remaining: vs. San Diego, at Pepperdine and vs. Gonzaga.