GAME NOTES: The two-time defending West Coast Conference champion Saint Mary's Gaels gun for their longest win streak of the season on Saturday, as they host the Pepperdine Waves at McKeon Pavilion in Moraga, California.
One of the most successful Division I programs in recent years, the Gaels are currently riding a four-game win streak, their fourth such streak this season. Each other time the squad had been knocked off in the fifth game, which is one of the reasons why this outing is so important.
SMC last took the floor on Thursday night, hosting San Diego, and the Gaels used the opportunity to demolish the Toreros by a final of 81-48. Now 5-1 in conference play and trailing only 10th-ranked Gonzaga in the standings, the Gaels have held their last two opponents to a combined 86 points.
Over on the other side, the Waves are trying to put together back-to-back wins for the first time since early December when the squad topped UC Riverside and Hawaii. Two nights ago, Pepperdine visited Loyola Marymount and found a way to capture a 60-57 victory in order to snap a three-game slide. The Waves, who have now equaled their entire win total from last season, are 2-4 in league play and that has them sitting in sixth place.
Pepperdine owns a 68-58 advantage in the all-time series, but the Gaels have won seven of the last eight matchups overall and five in a row in Moraga.
Jordan Baker cooked up a game-high 21 points for the Waves on Thursday night, shooting 3-of-6 behind the 3-point line as the team won at LMU for the first time since 2009. Lorne Jackson added 13 points and Stacy Davis chipped in with seven and a game-high 10 rebounds, but he was also guilty of five of the unit's 17 turnovers which nearly cost them the game. Jackson, who now has 114 games under his belt with the Waves, a starter in 63 of those contests, leads the team in scoring with 14.3 ppg as he plays more than 29 minutes per outing. Baker pops in another 11.4 ppg, shooting almost as well from 3-point range (.394) as he is from the floor overall (.404). Davis (10.2 ppg) handles the bulk of the action in the paint, leading to better than seven rebounds per contest.
Limiting the Toreros to a mere seven field goals in the first half and eight after the break on Thursday, SMC was able to pull the starters rather early and give the dedicated reserves some quality time on the floor, which is why Beau Levesque accounted for a game-high 20 points in 21 minutes off the bench. Brad Waldow contributed 15 points and five rebounds, followed by Mitchell Young with 10 points. As the court general, Matthew Dellavedova did stay on the floor for 28 minutes, allowing him to post nine points and 11 of his team's 18 assists as they cruised to the win. Already the school leader in assists, Dellavedova has handed out 134 over 20 games this season, making him one of the top producers in that department in the nation. But more than that, Dellavedova is also a fearless shooter who is pacing the program with 16.6 ppg as they outscore the competition by 13.1 ppg.
As long as Dellavedova has his hands on the ball and is in the ear of his teammates, the Gaels will almost always be a favorite to win, particularly at home where they are undefeated this season.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saint Mary's-CA 79, Pepperdine 64
01/26 10:45:42 ET
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