Saint Mary's-CA (19-4) at Santa Clara (17-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 7, 11 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Leavey Center (4,700) -- Santa Clara, California. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: SMC 13-0, SCU 11-4. Away Record: SMC 5-2, SCU 6-3. Neutral Record: SMC 1-2, SCU 0-0. Conference Record: SMC 8-1, SCU 5-4. Series Record: Santa Clara leads, 136-80.
GAME NOTES: Still in pursuit of nationally-ranked Gonzaga at the top of the West Coast Conference standings, the Saint Mary's-CA Gaels shoot for their eighth win in a row on Thursday night as they challenge the Santa Clara Broncos at the Leavey Center.
One of five schools nationally to have won at least 25 games in each of the last five seasons, the Gaels are aiming for their 20th victory in this meeting and their ninth in 10 WCC outings. Over the weekend SMC, which is alone in second place in the WCC standings, took care of Portland at home rather easily with a 77-42 romp. The Victory was the 11th in the last 12 outings overall, the lone setback coming against the aforementioned Bulldogs on the road last month, 83-78.
As for the Broncos, who are tied with San Diego for fourth place in the conference standings with a record of 5-4, they matched up against BYU last Saturday and were crushed by the Cougars by a final of 96-79. The defeat snapped what had been a five-game win streak for SCU.
Santa Clara leads the all-time series against the Gaels by a count of 136-80, but SMC has been cutting into the deficit the last several years with a seven- game win streak and victories in 10 of the last 11 matchups overall.
Defensively, the Gaels held Portland to a mere 31.3 percent shooting from the floor over the weekend and forced 20 turnovers, making it that much easier for the hosts to cruise to the victory. Matthew Dellavedova was responsible for 23 points, hitting 5-of-9 behind the 3-point line, followed by Jorden Page and Mitchell Young with 11 and 10 points, respectively. In conference play this season the Gaels have limited the opposition to just 60.9 ppg. Saint Mary's has dominated those programs on the glass with an advantage of just under 10 rebounds per game as well, thanks to the efforts of Stephen Holt (12.9 ppg) and Young (9.0 ppg) who have combined for more than 11 rpg themselves. Dellavedova (14.4 ppg) may be shooting less than 40 percent from the floor in WCC play, but his spirited efforts cannot be denied, nor can his 57 assists which is more than four times as many as any of his teammates has issued to this point.
While the Gaels were the ones dominating their last opponent, Santa Clara was on the other side of such a battle with BYU as the team shot just 38.1 percent from the field, compared to 58.3 percent for the Cougars at the Marriott Center on Saturday night. The Broncos did have five players score in double figures though, led by Kevin Foster with 18 points, followed by Marc Trasolini with 15 points and eight boards. Evan Roquemore tallied 14 points, Raymond Cowels 13 and reserve Brandon Clark 11 points for the visitors in the setback. One of the top scorers in the conference this season, Foster is posting 19.0 ppg as he knocked down an average of slightly more than a trio of 3-pointers per contest. Trasolini (15.8 ppg) and Roquemore (12.7 ppg) are also keys figures in an offense that, aside from the last outing, is outscoring the competition by more than 10 ppg.
The Gaels have had plenty of time to prepare for this meeting and there's no reason why the visitors shouldn't be able to take advantage of a Santa Clara squad that can be run out of the gym.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saint Mary's-CA 82, Santa Clara 74
02/07 10:32:06 ET