MORAGA, Calif. -- Over the past few games, the Saint Mary's men's basketball team has shown it is more than capable of playing the type of defense needed to succeed consistently in the West Coast Conference.
In beating Pepperdine 84-72 at McKeon Pavilion on Saturday, the Gaels showed they're also able to let it rip offensively.
Beau Levesque finished with 19 points, one off his career high set one game ago, to lead Saint Mary's (17-4, 6-1 WCC) to its fifth straight win.
Stephen Holt added 17 points for the Gaels. Matthew Dellavedova recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 assists. Brad Waldow added 13 and Mitchell Young finished with 12, scoring in double digits for the fourth time in the last five games.
Jordan Baker led Pepperdine (10-10, 2-5) with 20 points. Lorne Jackson added 16.
"That game is a good example of how our league is better in the middle," Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said. "They have good talent, they made baskets, they were tough for us to defend. I thought we did a really good job offensively, but we struggled guarding them."
Leading by just nine at halftime, Saint Mary's managed to create a bit of a gap in the early stages of the second half and take command.
The lead hovered in double digits for much of the half. A good entry pass from Dellavedova found Young underneath for a layup with 12:13 remaining, putting the Gaels up 62-47 and causing Pepperdine coach Marty Wilson to call time out.
Saint Mary's pushed the lead as high as 19 before Pepperdine started to get a bit closer. For every basket the Waves made though, the Gaels had an answer, and the margin stayed comfortable for the rest of the game.
Saint Mary's carried a 49-40 lead into halftime, thanks in large part to a phenomenal half from Levesque.
The junior from Lafayette, Calif. did it all on the offensive end. Up and unders, 3-pointers, runners in the lane, free throws, Levesque scored in a variety of ways. He finished the half with 15 points on 7 for 7 shooting from the field, and finished the game a scalding 9 for 11.
"Beau is a pretty good basket maker, but I thought he competed well," Bennett said. "Both games this weekend he did, but tonight it seemed like he was getting all the boards when we needed them, getting us second shots. In the first half, he did a good job of taking what the defense gave him."
The Gaels as a whole did little wrong in the first half. They shot 65 percent from the floor, going 20 for 31, and went 5 for 9 from long distance. They also took care of the ball, turning it over just three times.
Pepperdine wouldn't go away though, doing some of its best work at the offensive end as well. The Waves shot 55 percent, and got a combined 21 points from their backcourt duo of Baker and Jackson.
Saint Mary's next game comes with a trip across the Bay Bridge, as the Gaels head to San Francisco on Wednesday for a showdown with the rival Dons.
That game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. tip, and will be televised by Comcast SportsNet California. A live audio stream of the game and live stats will be available on SMCGaels.com.
The Gaels return to McKeon Pavilion on Saturday, Feb. 2 when they host Portland at 4:30 p.m. That game will also be televised by CSN California, with live audio and stats available on SMCGaels.com. For tickets, click the Tickets link on SMCGaels.com or call the SMC Athletic Ticket Office at (925) 631-GoTx.