ANAHEIM -- Saint Mary's College talked about facing Bay Area neighbor Cal in the final of the DirecTV Classic at the Anaheim Convention Center.

But the Gaels couldn't handle another Northern California school Friday in the tournament semifinals in losing for the first time this season.

Saint Mary's (4-1) got run over by the University of the Pacific 76-66 in a matchup of California schools from rival mid-major conferences.

"We made Saint Mary's earn stuff more than they usually like," UOP coach Bob Thomason said of the West Coast Conference power. "I didn't think we'd be up 19. I thought if the planned worked we'd be up four."

The Tigers outscored the Gaels 24-6 over a 10-minute 12-second stretch in the second half to build a 19-point lead in becoming the first Big West Conference team to reach the tournament final.

The players' effort during that frustrating stretch didn't sit well with Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett.

He expressed his displeasure in the locker room afterward, later saying "if you're going to be a good team you can't quit competing on possession. You've got to play through stuff."

The Gaels looked lost during the crucial stretch as they rushed shots and played clumsily on defense.

"It was uncharacteristic of a good team to do what we did," Bennett said. "We lost our composure, because we didn't score well."

The coach expects his team to rebound Sunday when facing the loser of the Cal-Georgia Tech game that was scheduled to be played later Friday night.

But an hour after the defeat the Gaels weren't ready to let go.

"We know that's not the best basketball we can play," said Beau Levesque, who led his team with 18 points in 24 minutes.

The Tigers (3-2) effectively shut down Gaels point guard Matthew Dellavedova to stop a team that has won 25 games five consecutive seasons and reached the Sweet 16 in 2010.

The Tigers' strategy was simple. Bump, push and pull Dellavedova out of his rhythm. UOP threw high pressure-traps and quick switches on screens to subdue the Australian point guard who averaged 20.5 points per game this season.

Teammates didn't give Dellavedova enough support when the game still was in question by missing easy inside shots.

"You can't stop Saint Mary's," Thomason said. "You just try to contain them."

The UOP coach knew it would be all but impossible to also stop Dellavedova, who ended with 16 points but only one assist.

"We just tried to make him work hard and not get any good looks on 3s," said Thomason, who plans to retire after 25 seasons in Stockton.

Pacific tried to close down the passing angels to avoid permitting easy layins.

"If they were going to beat us they were going to have make those 3s," Thomason added.

The Gaels made 11 of 27 shots from 3-point range for 40.7 percent. But they only shot 41.8 percent for the game overall.

Dellavedova tried to do it himself in the tense, waning moments. He got consecutive 3-pointers with 1:28 left as Saint Mary's closed to seven.

But the guard showed frustration with 47 seconds left after getting his fourth foul. He slammed the floor with his fist and got a technical foul. It was the first time Dellavedova fouled out since his sophomore season.

Lorenzo McCloud led the Tigers with 18 points, and Ross Rivera added 14 as four UOP players scored in double figures. Pacific made 21 of 26 free throws -- all in the second half -- and also outrebounded the Gaels 34-24.

"They just kept hitting shots," Levesque said of the Tigers' 53.1 percentage from the field.

Bennett just hopes Saint Mary's can improve after a less-than-satisfactory start to the season.

"We have to get better, and I knew that," he said. "And we haven't gotten better."

Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865 and follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/elliottalmond.