San Francisco (20-12) vs. Saint Mary's-CA (25-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 3, 9:00 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Orleans Arena (7,471) -- Las Vegas, Nevada. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: USF 12-4, SMC 16-1. Away Record: USF 5-6, SMC 8-3. Neutral Record: USF 3-2, SMC 1-1. Conference Record: USF 8-8, SMC 14-2. Series Record: San Francisco leads, 103-68.
GAME NOTES: The fifth-seeded San Francisco Dons will try to win their third game in three days tonight as they face the top-seeded Saint Mary's-CA Gaels in the semifinal round of the 2012 West Coast Conference Tournament at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
Saint Mary's ended the regular season with a 67-60 victory over San Francisco to complete the sweep of the season series. The Dons still hold a 103-68 lead in the all-time series, but the Gaels regular-season closing win was their 13th in a row over USF. The Dons will be looking for their first victory over SMC since 2006.
The Dons return to the semifinals, where they lost in 2010-11 after they attempted to call a time out while trailing Gonzaga by three with seconds remaining. San Francisco had a great offensive outing as it ran past the Portland Pilots and picked up an 87-66 victory on Thursday night in its second-round contest. The Dons followed their first tournament game with a 67-60 upset of fourth-seeded Loyola Marymount. USF continued to play well at the offensive end, as it hit 11-of-26 from beyond the arc to tame the Lions. Coach Rex Walters is used to seeing his team light up the scoreboard, as it averages 75.6 ppg. San Francisco has forced 32 total turnovers in the tournament so far, and will need to continue to force turnovers to get past the top-tier teams in the WCC.
After the Dons were led by the 19-point performances by their senior duo of Angelo Caloiaro and Rashad Green on Thursday night, they were able to get past Loyola Marymount on Friday while they struggled. Caloiaro and Green combined to make only 6-of-25 from the floor and just 2-of-7 from three-point range versus the Lions. Michael Williams stepped up as his teammates struggled poured in 19 points. Cody Doolin also helped out with 16 points and Cole Dickerson chipped in 10 points.
The Gaels win over USF on Feb. 25 gave it its first outright WCC regular- season title in 23 years. Coach Randy Bennett led the team to an impressive 25-5 overall record and a 14-2 mark. The Gaels appeared to lose some steam heading in the final month, as they lost to Gonzaga, Loyola Marymount and Murray State by double-digit margins before ending the season with victories over Portland and San Francisco. The Gaels success in conference play this season gave it an 11.1 point per game margin of victory against their league rivals. SMC has played in the WCC Tournament championship game in each of the last three seasons, all versus Gonzaga.
SMC was led by the WCC's Player of the Year, Matthew Dellavedova. The shifty point guard carries impressive averages of 15.4 points and 6.5 assists per game as the Gaels' floor general. Rob Jones took a great deal of pressure off of Dellavedova as he overpowered the opposition on his way to a double-double average of 14.8 points and 10.7 boards per game. Saint Mary's will be without its third-leading scorer Stephen Holt, which will require increased production from Brad Waldow, Jorden Page and Clint Steindl.
The Dons survived on Friday night despite terrible performances from Caloiaro and Green is quite encouraging. Both players are very talented and it is unlikely either of them come out cold two nights in a row. USF has all the momentum and nothing to lose coming into tonight. The Gaels are clearly the superior team, but they will have to shake off some rust quickly after their double-bye provided them with a week off.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saint Mary's-CA 73, San Francisco 68
03/03 10:38:44 ET