Saint Mary's-CA (21-5) at Loyola Marymount (8-17)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 16, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gersten Pavilion (4,156) -- Los Angeles, California. Television: Time Warner Cable SportsNet, CSN-CA. Home Record: SMC 13-1, LMU 5-6. Away Record: SMC 7-2, LMU 2-10. Neutral Record: SMC 1-2, LMU 1-1. Conference Record: SMC 10-2, LMU 1-11. Series Record: Saint Mary's leads, 80-54.
GAME NOTES: The Saint Mary's Gaels visit the City of Angels for West Coast Conference action against the Loyola Marymount Lions at Gersten Pavilion.
SMC coasted to a 74-61 victory over LMU on Jan. 5 behind 17 points and eight assists from reigning WCC Player of the Year Matthew Dellavedova. The victory improved the Gaels record versus the Lions to 80-54 all-time and gave them their 12th win in the rivalry over a 13 game span.
Randy Bennett's Gaels had a chance to avenge their only WCC loss of the season and tie Gonzaga for first place in the standings on Thursday, but they were handed a 77-60 setback by the Bulldogs which ended a nine-game winning streak. SMC is still believed to be a serious contender for one of the NCAA Tournament's at-large bids if it does not manage to win the WCC Tournament due to its 21-5 overall record, but another conference loss could be costly. So far through 12 games, SMC has outscored its league foes by an average of 11.2 ppg.
Dellavedova lived up to his reputation in the loss to the Zags by tallying game-high 22 points to go along with six assists. Stephen Holt chimed in with 17 points and three steals. While Dellavedova (16.1 ppg) and Holt (11.7) are respectively leading SMC in scoring, Beau Levesque (10.8) and Brad Waldow (10.0 have also shouldered the scoring burden. Bennett's team is very capable on both ends of the floor as it nets 77.1 ppg to the 64.5 ppg it gives up. In addition to leading the squad in scoring, Dellavedova is also second in the NCAA in career assists (716) among active players.
While SMC's Australian floor general is without a doubt one of the best in the country, LMU has a decent point guard of its own to counter with in Anthony Ireland. The 5-foot-10 junior guard is contributing 20.5 points, 3.8 assists, and 4.6 rebounds on a daily basis to lead the Lions, but his efforts have clearly not been enough as the team is 8-17 overall and only 1-11 in WCC action. Coach Max Good's squad suffered a heartbreaking, 52-50 loss to Pepperdine in its last outing after the Waves' held it scoreless for the final 3:31.
Ireland poured in 26 of the team's 50 points in the loss as the rest of the team made a combined total of four field goal attempts. The Lions finished the game shooting 33.3 percent, hitting 26.3 percent from long range while going 9- for-12 from the free throw line. The Lions had 17 more field goal attempts than the Waves, who hit 45.9 percent from the field but just 1-for-9 (11.1 percent) from behind the arc. However, the Waves went to the free-throw line 25 times, hitting 17 (68 percent).
LMU is just below the WCC's median in scoring offense with 66.9 ppg, but it is the most generous team defensively with an allowed average of 70.5 ppg. Ireland is the second leading scorer in the league with 20.5 ppg and he has some help in Ashley Hamilton (13.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Ayodeji Egbeyemi (10.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg).
Despite being on the road, SMC should easily win this one. The Gaels are one of the smartest teams in the country with the ball, which usually prevents upsets against foes with such undisciplined defenses. LMU will not be able to slow down SMC, so it will need to try to play with it in a fast-paced game that could turn into a blowout quickly.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saint Mary's 74, Loyola Marymount 61
02/16 10:36:27 ET