MORAGA, Calif. -- As the midway point of the West Coast Conference season approaches, the Saint Mary's men's basketball team might be playing some of its most complete basketball to date.
That theory will be tested on Saturday, when Pepperdine visits McKeon Pavilion for a 3 p.m. matinee. The game will be televised locally by Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, and live audio will be available as always on SMCGaels.com. Live stats will also be available.
Saint Mary's (16-4, 5-1 WCC) has put together two defensive gems in a row, limiting Portland to 38 points last week and backing that up with an 81-48 win over San Diego on Thursday.
Good defense has led to plenty of opportunities on offense, and the Gaels haven't been shy about cashing them in.
Against San Diego, Beau Levesque led the charge on the scoreboard, posting a career-high 20 points in just 21 minutes off the bench. Strong all-around play of late has resulted in Levesque's numbers going up, and the native of Lafayette, Calif. enters Saturday's contest averaging 10.4 points per game.
As usual, senior point guard Matthew Dellavedova was the consummate floor general against San Diego.
He only scored nine points, but his 11 assists were a season high, and only one shy of his career best. Equally impressive was the fact that Dellavedova had no turnovers, and over his last five games, the Australian star has only turned it over seven times.
Depth continues to be a strong suit for Saint Mary's. Led by Levesque's 20, the Gaels' bench scored 39 points against San Diego. Kyle Rowley tied his career high with eight points, and Jordan Giusti added four assists in 20 minutes of work.
Pepperdine (10-9, 2-4) enters with plenty of momentum, as head coach Marty Wilson's group picked up an impressive 60-57 win at Loyola Marymount on Thursday.
Leading the way in the win was sophomore guard Jordan Baker, who scored 17 of his 21 points in the first half to help the Waves stay in the game.
Senior guard Lorne Jackson will also factor into Pepperdine's attack. An all-WCC preseason selection, Jackson scored 13 points and grabbed five rebounds against Loyola Marymount.
Statistically, the Gaels and Waves are similar in a few key areas. Most notably, both teams have been good defensively this season. Pepperdine enters Saturday's contest second in the conference in scoring defense, allowing just 64.7 points per game. Saint Mary's is right on the Waves' heels, allowing 64.8 per game.
Saint Mary's won both meetings between the two schools last season. The final matchup came at home on Jan. 19, with the Gaels earning a 61-47 victory behind 17 points and 10 rebounds from Rob Jones.
The WCC T-Shirt Drive continues Saturday, with fans encouraged to bring lightly worn shirts to donate in the McKeon lobby. Fans who bring a shirt from another college can exchange it for a Saint Mary's shirt.
Saturday's game also marks the start of the Gael Giveaway. Fans who visit the Marketing table in the lobby can pick up a punch card to bring to every game they attend. The more punches you get, the better prize you can cash it in for. Fans can punch their tickets at both men's and women's home games. The grand prize will be given away at the men's game against Gonzaga on Feb. 14.