MORAGA, Calif. (AP) After spending last season on Saint Mary's bench as a spectator following a transfer from Boston College, Joe Rahon anxiously waited for his chance to play again.
With three consecutive blowout wins to open the season, including a stunner against defending NIT champion Stanford, Rahon is certainly relishing his time back on the court.
Rahon scored a season-high 24 points and helped spark a big run in the second half to lead Saint Mary's California to a 78-61 win over Stanford on Sunday night.
Rahon, who sat out all of last season after transferring from Boston College, went 11 of 16 from the floor and had six rebounds and three assists. His layup with 2 minutes remaining gave Saint Mary's a 73-56 lead.
''They didn't switch initially and me and Emmett (Naar) were able to get to the rim and finish over their big guy,'' Rahon said. ''They made an adjustment to switch it and I was able to see lanes and get past their big guy. The ball dropped tonight.''
Naar added 15 points, including a pair of 3-pointers down the stretch, and Evan Fitzner had 15 points for the Gaels (3-0), who beat the Cardinal for the first time in 31 years.
The Gaels trailed by four at halftime but went on a 12-0 run midway through the second half to pull away.
''We made some shots,'' Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said. ''We hit some big shots, and sometimes it comes down to that. We did, they didn't.''
Reid Travis had a career-high 18 points and seven rebounds for Stanford (2-2).
Saint Mary's opened the season with blowout wins over San Francisco State and Manhattan but had not beaten Stanford since an overtime win at McKeon Pavilion on Dec. 18, 1984.
The Gaels took care of this one in regulation, pulling away for their third consecutive win by 17 points or more.
''We're a very confident group,'' Rahon said. ''We're young and we're going to keep getting better. Today was a good step for us.''
Rahon scored seven consecutive points in the second half to erase a 45-42 Stanford lead and put Saint Mary's ahead for good in the first game between the schools since 2002.
The Cardinal, which led 37-33 at halftime, couldn't get much going after the break.
Travis scored to cut the Gaels' lead to 62-54 but Saint Mary's got back-to-back layups from Kyle Clark and Rahon followed by Naar's second 3-pointer of the game.
''We were as bad as I've seen us be defensively in the second half,'' Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. ''That's very disappointing. We have to learn from that.''
Saint Mary's had no answer for Marcus Allen in the first half.
Playing in just his second game after sitting out the start of the season with a foot injury, Allen made all six of his shots - including a pair of 3-pointers - and Stanford went on mini run with six minutes left to take a 37-33 halftime lead.
Rahon scored 11 points early to help keep Saint Mary's close.
COLD CARDINAL: Stanford's offense went cold down the stretch in the second half while the defense allowed Saint Mary's to close out making seven of its final 10 shots from the floor. ''Obviously our energy just dropped as a team,'' Allen said. ''We started settling for the bad shots . and our defense took a lapse. Too many layups.''
Stanford: The Cardinal went into the game averaging more than 90 points a game. . Stanford leads the all-time series between the two schools 40-16. . Rahon's career high of 26 points came during his sophomore year at Boston College.
St. Mary's: The Gaels missed four of their first five shots before making six straight. . Saint Mary's is 47-4 at home in its last 51 games against non-conference opponents
Stanford: Will play Villanova on Thursday in Brooklyn, N.Y. (NIT Season Tip-Off).
St. Mary's: Hosts Cal State-Bakersfield on Nov. 29.