MORAGA, Calif. -- A great week on the road has the Saint Mary's men's basketball team looking forward to more West Coast Conference action.
Now, play shifts back to McKeon Pavilion as the Gaels host San Diego on Thursday at 8 p.m. in a matchup of two teams near the top of the WCC standings.
The game will be televised locally on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, which picked up the game from CSN California due to the resumption of the NHL season. Live audio will be available as always on SMCGaels.com with fan favorites Alex Jensen and Phil Benson on the call.
Tickets are available by clicking the Tickets link on SMCGaels.com, or by calling the SMC Athletic Ticket Office at (925) 631-GoTx.
Saint Mary's (15-4, 4-1 WCC) enjoyed a tremendously successful pair of victories away from home last week. Matthew Dellavedova's buzzer-beater lifted the Gaels to a 70-69 win at BYU, then a standout defensive performance held Portland to its lowest point total ever against Saint Mary's in a 60-38 Gaels triumph.
Leading the way in both games was junior guard Stephen Holt. He was the Gaels' leading scorer in both games, pouring in 22 at BYU and 13 at Portland. The All-WCC preseason selection has scored 74 points over his last four games.
Dellavedova left his fingerprints all over both games, with his second-half heroics at BYU only the most notable part of his important all-around contributions. He scored 18 points and dished out eight assists against the Cougars, then backed it up with 11 points and six assists against the Pilots.
After having to rally against a hot-shooting BYU squad, Saint Mary's clamped down defensively when it visited Portland. The Gaels held the Pilots to just 23.3 percent from the floor and grabbed 11 steals, led by four from Beau Levesque.
That defensive effort will be important again this week, especially with San Diego (11-9, 4-1) currently sitting in a tie for third in the conference with the Gaels.
Just like last season, the Toreros are led a pair of quick, talented guards in Johnny Dee and Christopher Anderson. Dee comes into Thursday's game as USD's leading scorer at 15 points per game. Anderson comes in averaging 9.6 a game, and is one of four players (Dee, Oakland native Ken Rancifer and forward Chris Manresa) to average over nine points a game.
San Diego started the conference season on fire, earning wins over Portland, San Francisco, Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount. That streak ended last week, with a 74-57 loss at BYU. Dee led the way with 15 points in the loss, his fourth straight game as the Toreros leading scorer.
Head coach Bill Grier's squad comes to McKeon ranked highly in the WCC when it comes to defense.
The Toreros have allowed an average of 64 points per game, ranking second in the conference in scoring defense. They also lead the conference in 3-point scoring defense, with opponents shooting just 30.6 percent from long distance. And, they average 4.3 blocks per game, good for second in the WCC.
Saint Mary's won both meetings between the two teams last season, with the final victory coming in a 84-73 win on Feb. 2. Rob Jones led the way with 28 points, and Holt added 23. Manresa led San Diego with 25. Saint Mary's holds a 38-35 edge all-time against San Diego.
The WCC T-Shirt Drive is also still underway, and fans can drop off their lightly-worn shirts in the McKeon Pavilion lobby.
Another highlight Thursday will be an in-game recognition of the Saint Mary's rugby team, which recently placed fourth at the the USA Rugby 7s National Tournament at Texas A&M. Help celebrate its success by cheering the team on Thursday.
The SMC golf team will also be recognized during the game, with players receiving their championship rings from last year's run to the WCC title. Led by coach Scott Hardy, the Gaels are readying for a title defense and should be among the favorites again this season.