MORAGA, Calif. -- Late night basketball has become something of a tradition for the Saint Mary's men's basketball team and this season will be no different as the Gaels host Akron early Tuesday morning as part of the ESPN Tip-Off Marathon.
Tuesday's game is set for a midnight tip (Monday night to Tuesday morning) and will be televised nationally on ESPN2 with Carter Blackburn and Bob Valvano on the call. Live audio of the game will be available on SMCGaels.com with Alex Jensen describing the action. Live statistics will also be available on the website.
Saint Mary's enters with a 1-0 record after scoring an impressive 83-70 win over Louisiana Tech on Friday to begin the 2013-14 season. All-West Coast Conference preseason selection Brad Waldow began his year in fine fashion, scoring a career-high 28 points to lead all scorers. Fellow All-WCC preseason pick Stephen Holt also got the season off the a good start, adding 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists.
Rounding out Friday's starting five were Beau Levesque, James Walker III and Jordan Giusti. Several other Gaels played prominent roles off the bench, including newcomers Kerry Carter and Garrett Jackson and returning big man Matt Hodgson.
Tuesday's game represents a return to the ESPN Tip-Off Marathon for Saint Mary's after taking last season off. Before that, the Gaels showed that late night hoops might in fact be their specialty, winning four years in a row as part of the event with victories over Northern Iowa, St. John's, San Diego State and Fresno State.
Just as they have in all of their late night matchups, the Gaels will face a nationally prominent and extremely accomplished opponent. Akron enters at 1-0 after defeating Coastal Carolina 72-63 in the Zips' season opener. Four players -- Jake Kretzer (14), Quincy Diggs (14), Demetrius "Tree" Treadwell (13) and Nick Harney (11) -- scored in double figures in the win.
Head coach Keith Dambrot has established a culture of success at Akron that looks remarkably similar to the run enjoyed by Saint Mary's under coach Randy Bennett. The Zips have won 22 or more games in each of the past eight seasons, and Akron is the two-time defending Mid-American Conference regular season champion.
Tuesday's game is only the second meeting between the two schools and first in 30 years. The host Zips defeated the Gaels 71-56 on Dec. 19, 1973. Saint Mary's was led that season by Maurice Harper, who averaged 17.2 points per game for head coach Frank LaPorte.
After finishing in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, Saint Mary's will have little time to rest before hitting the court again. The Gaels welcome North Dakota State on Thursday for an 8:30 p.m. tip, then host Drake on Saturday at 7 p.m. Tickets to both games are available by clicking the Tickets link on SMCGaels.com or by calling the SMC Athletic Ticket Office at (925) 631-GoTx.