MORAGA, Calif. -- As far as auditions go, the Saint Mary's men's basketball team had little to worry about in terms of performance anxiety Saturday against Sonoma State.
The defending West Coast Conference champion Gaels stormed out to a big lead early and never looked back, defeating the Division II Seawolves 95-69 in front of a boisterous McKeon Pavilion crowd.
Saint Mary's (1-0) came out swinging from the opening tip. Two 3-pointers from Matthew Dellavedova keyed a 10-0 run to start the game, putting Sonoma State (0-2) at a disadvantage right from the start.
That opening run would put the Gaels up by as much as 15, with a Matt Hodgson layup making the score 18-3 with just over five minutes of play elapsed.
The Seawolves did show flashes of getting back into the game early, cutting the lead to 11 on a layup by Steve Lackey with 8:04 left in the half.
That was as close as Sonoma State would get. The Gaels continued to extend the lead, and a layup at the buzzer by Kyle Rowley sent Saint Mary's into halftime up 48-24.
"I thought offensively we played pretty well. We were pretty efficient," Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said. "Defensively, if we played 40 minutes, we played 15 or 20 good minutes of defense. We didn't do key things well enough, like defend the 3."
The Gaels got predictable performances from stalwarts Dellavedova (20 points, 5 assists), Stephen Holt (12 points, six rebounds, four assists) and Brad Waldow (11 points, seven rebounds), but they also got plenty in the way of energy from the bench.
Jordan Giusti made his Saint Mary's debut in front of a home crowd chanting his name, and played tough defense to go with seven points.
"I liked how hard he played," Bennett said. "I liked what he got done. When he was in the game, the score went the right way."
James Walker III and Matt Hodgson also made their Gaels debuts, each playing well at points to give the team a lift off the bench.
Will Olsem led Sonoma State with 15 points. Patrick Scott added 12. Mitchell Young also scored 11 points for Saint Mary's.
Next up for Saint Mary's will be one of its toughest tests in the early season, as the Gaels travel to take on Utah State on Thursday at 6 p.m. A live audio stream of the game, featuring play by play man Alex Jensen, will be available on SMCGaels.com.