GAMES NOTES: The Saint Mary's Gaels attempt to keep pace at the top of the West Cost Conference standings when they bring in the Portland Pilots for a conference bout at McKeon Pavilion on Saturday night.
It has been another miserable stretch for Portland in recent weeks as the Pilots have lost five straight games after suffering a 70-46 beating from Santa Clara on Thursday. Portland is just 8-15 overall this season but has been even worse in league play where it has managed just one win in eight tries. As the loss to Santa Clara proved playing on the road isn't likely to help as the Pilots are just 1-8 in away contests. Portland will be home for its next two games against Loyola-Marymount and Pepperdine.
The Gaels could not be on a more opposite end in comparison. Saint Mary's has won each of its last six contests after besting San Francisco 67-63 on Wednesday. The Gaels are 18-4 overall this season and 7-1 in conference action. The lone loss came to conference leading Gonzaga earlier this season who the Gaels now trail by a half game in the league standings. McKeon Pavilion has been quite a haven for the Gaels who are a perfect 12-0 at home. The Gaels will travel to play Santa Clara and San Diego next.
Saint Mary's absolutely dominated Portland when these teams met earlier this season, earning a 60-38 victory. That improved the Gaels' all-time series lead to 56-29.
In its loss to Santa Clara, Portland managed to connect on just 25 percent of its shots from the floor while letting the Broncos shoot at a robust 50 percent from the field. The Pilots were also outrebounded, 40-26, while being outscored 20-8 in points off turnovers.
For Portland the real struggles this season have been on the offensive end of the floor. The 46 points that Portland scored against Santa Clara marked the fifth time this season it has been held below 50 points and the fourth time in WCC play. Portland is the lowest scoring team in the WCC overall (60.1 ppg) while ranking second worst in field goal percentage (.411). Ryan Nicholas (13.3 ppg, 9.5 rpg) is the team's leading scorer and rebounder, ranking second in the conference on the boards. Kevin Bailey (11.6 ppg) is the only player scoring more than 6.5 points per game.
Saint Mary's led by as many as 16 points against San Francisco but had that lead slashed to just two points with 10 seconds remaining after the Gaels shot just 37.5 percent in the second half. However a pair of free throws from Jorden Page on the other end kept the Dons at arm's length as the Gaels held on.
Shortages on the offensive end of the floor are not something that Saint Mary's has had to deal with. The Gaels are the second best scoring (77.7 ppg) and shooting team (.492 FG percentage) in the WCC with each of those marks also ranking among the top 20 in the country. Saint Mary's also has the benefit of owning a sizable margin on the boards (+9.2). Matthew Dellavedova (16.0 ppg, 6.6 apg) is the man that runs the show for the Gaels as the teams leading scorer and distributor. The senior guard also leads the conference in assists. Stephen Holt (12.7 ppg), Beau Levesque (10.4 ppg) and Brad Waldow (10.0 ppg) have been the main beneficiaries of Dellavedova's passing.
The torrid pace at which Saint Mary's plays coupled with the Gaels' absolute dominance at home will be too much for Portland to compete with in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saint Mary's 87, Portland 68
02/02 11:38:08 ET
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