Moraga, CA - Saint Mary's clinched the two-seed in the Zappos.com West Coast Conference Championship and at least a second place for the sixth time under head coach Randy Bennett with a 76-49 win over visiting Pepperdine, Thursday night at McKeon Pavilion. In the victory, senior center Omar Samhan had three blocked shots, to break Diamon Simpson's record for career blocked shots.
"I thought we played pretty well," said Bennett. "It was earlier in the game they played us pretty inside out, which made it pretty tough for us to score and so the game stayed tight. Once we made a separation I thought we did a really good job keeping it there. We didn't let them have any big runs, where they got back and it was close. Pepperdine can play, pack it in defensively and do good on offensive boards, which they hurt us on in the first half. I thought our guys did a really good job defensively and then offensively we eventually started making some shoot and we kept our composure early in the game when they made it tough for us to make some baskets."
With 7:29 in the first half, and Saint Mary's leading 18-6, Samhan blocked Keion Bell's layup, his third of the half, giving him 240 career blocks, breaking Diamon's record which he set last season. Samhan finished the night with his 18th double-double of the season, and 41st of his career, with game-highs of 20 points and 10 rebounds, while adding three blocks.
Samhan also broke the 1,700-point barrier, finishing the night with 1,712 career points, which is third all-time. Samhan trails David Vann who has 1,738 and the school's all-time leading scorer Daniel Kickert, who had 1,874 career points. This game also marks the 39th consecutive game in double figure for the San Ramon, CA native.
Freshman guard Matthew Dellavedova finished the night with 17 points, going 5-for-8 from the field; all five baskets came from behind the 3-point line. The 17 points for Dellavedova are the most the guard has scored since he recorded 23 against Gonzaga on January 14. He also finished with five rebounds and four assists.
Senior center Ben Allen finished with 13 points, going 5-for-12 from the field, and 3-for-5 from behind the arc. He finished with eight rebounds, and one assist and one block as well.
The Gaels (23-5/10-3 WCC) jumped out to an early lead, playing tight defense, forcing several Waves turnovers. Pepperdine (7-22/3-10 WCC) didn't get on the board until 15:26 on the clock. The Waves never threatened the Gaels, as never got closer than three with the score at 5-2. The Gaels quickly found themselves up by as much 15 with 6:00 minutes left on the clock. Freshman Jorden Page hit two of three free-throws to put the Gaels up 34-17 at the half.
In the second half, SMC continued to poor it on, shooting 46 percent from the field. Saint Mary's essentially put the game away going on a 17-6 run in the opening minutes of the second half. Samhan scored 10 of his 20 points in the second half and proved to be too much in the paint for the Waves.
Freshman Tim Williams scored eight points off the bench in the second half, going 1-for-1 from the field and 6-for-7 from the charity stripe. Jorden Page finished the night with six points, while fellow freshman Beau Levesque added four points.
The win clinched the #2 seed in the WCC Tournament. The Gaels return to action on Saturday, February 27 hosting the Loyola Marymount Lions, with the tip-off scheduled for 6:00 PM. Saint Mary's will say good-bye to seniors Omar Samhan, Ben Allen and Wayne Hunter.