MORAGA, Calif. — Brett Collins scored 15 points and Saint Mary's overcame a poor shooting second half Tuesday night to hold Air Force and win its ninth straight game, 59-58.
The Gaels (15-4), coming off a big win over Gonzaga last Saturday, never trailed after scoring the game's first nine points. But they almost blew a 13-point halftime lead, scoring only 19 points in the second half. Saint Mary's shot only 5-for-14 from the field and 9-for-18 from the foul line after halftime.
Jason Walberg missed two free throws with 24.5 seconds, giving Air Force (10-6) one last chance to win. Matt McGraw missed a jumper, but Nick Welch retained the ball for Air Force in a wild scramble for the ball. He launched a last-second air ball attempt while falling near the free-throw line as time ran out.
Saint Mary's has matched the second longest winning streak in school history and has won a school record 13 consecutive nonconference games. The win was also Saint Mary's 12th straight at home to match a school record.
Paul Marginey added 13 points for the Gaels and E.J. Rowland scored 10.
McGraw led Air Force with 17 points. Tim Keller and Antoine Hood chipped in 12 apiece.
Jonathan Sanders got the Gaels off to a quick start, scoring four points after a pair of early steals before Air Force even attempted a shot. Saint Mary's had seven points before Air Force got its first shot.
Air Force held Saint Mary's without a shot attempt for more than five minutes to begin the second half and blocked the first two Saint Mary's shot attempts.
The Gaels went 4-0 this season against teams from the Mountain West, also beating UNLV, BYU and San Diego State.