DATE & TIME: Wednesday, December 30th, 10:35 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: McKeon Pavilion (3,500) -- Moraga, California. Television: None. Home Record: Howard 0-1, SMC 7-1. Away Record: Howard 0-6, SMC 4-0. Neutral Record: Howard 1-4, SMC 1-1. Conference Record: Howard 1-0, SMC 0-0. Series Record: Saint Mary's-CA leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The final game in the annual Shamrock Classic in Moraga takes place tonight, as the streaking Saint Mary's-CA Gaels take on the slumping Howard Bison at McKeon Pavilion.
Last night, the Gaels posted their second straight win and the 10th in the last 11 outings as they completely dominated an overmatched Binghamton program, 85-57. Following this matchup, the Gaels will take a break and return to action at San Francisco on January 8th to open the West Coast Conference portion of their schedule.
As for the Bison, the team experienced nothing new on Tuesday evening when they suffered a 73-50 loss versus Stephen F. Austin in first-round action of this event. The defeat was the third in a row and the 11th in 12 opportunities this season for the ailing program.
Before Howard gets into the bulk of its MEAC schedule in January, the team still has meetings with locals George Washington and Navy to deal with in the first week of the new year.
With respect to the all-time series between these two schools on the hardwood, the Gaels won the only previous meeting with a 97-48 rout of Howard two years ago.
For the first couple of minutes on Tuesday it appeared Howard might be in contention against the Lumberjacks, but that was before SFA went on an 11-0 run and blew the game wide open. The Bison hurt themselves with a mere 5-of-20 shooting from the field in the first half and 10-of-20 accuracy at the free- throw line overall. Calvin Thompson, who came off the bench for Howard, was the lone double-digit scorer for the program with his 16 points on 6-of-15 shooting from the field. Over the course of the first 12 games, Thompson leads the program with his 12.8 ppg, again, the only double-digit scorer for the group to this point in the campaign. Second in rebounding with slightly more than four per contest, Thompson is also leading with 23 assists. Unfortunately, team play has been sorely lacking for the Bison as they average barely eight assists per game, resulting in a mere 54.7 ppg.
The Gaels used their perimeter prowess to easily handle the Bearcats yesterday, matching a season-high with 13 three-pointers, on 25 attempts in the 28-point victory at home. Mickey McConnell handled the action on the perimeter for the squad with his 5-of-7 effort behind the three-point line and seven assists, arriving at a team-best 24 points along the way. Omar Samhan, the dominating big man in the WCC, registered 15 points, nine boards and five blocked shots, while Matthew Dellavedova posted 19 points as he too made five three-pointers, while Binghamton missed all 14 of its attempts beyond the arc. Samhan is a beast in the paint for SMC with his 20.6 points and 11.0 rebounds per game, both of which easily lead the Gaels right now. While Samhan settles in near the rim, it is McConnell's job to direct traffic on the outside and put his teammates in the right position and the guard has done that to the tune of 85 assists in 14 starts. The duo also put forth a strong effort at the defensive end of the floor as well where the guard has 24 steals and the center 29 blocked shots to help give the Gaels a scoring advantage of almost 15.0 ppg at the moment.
This is another game in which the Gaels can pad their stats and gain confidence as they get ready to begin their league schedule next month.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saint Mary's-CA 88, Howard 52
12/30 10:30:41 ET
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