MORAGA, Calif. -- A lengthy stretch of home games to begin the season comes to a close this weekend for the Saint Mary's men's basketball team as Eastern Washington visits McKeon Pavilion on Sunday at 5:30 p.m.
Video of the game will be streamed live on SMCGaels.com with the voice of the Gaels, Alex Jensen, bringing the play by play as always. Live statistics will also be available through the website.
Progress has been consistent for the Gaels, who enter Sunday's contest with a perfect 6-0 record. After facing a tough stretch of games to begin the season, Saint Mary's has focused its effort over the last few weeks on taking those lessons learned and applying them in practice.
So far, the work has shown in several different areas at different times, and last Saturday's 89-64 win over Murray State featured much of that improvement all at one time. The Gaels forced 17 turnovers while only committing nine, and that commitment to taking care of the ball yielded a decisive 33-7 edge in points off turnovers.
That victory also saw the Gaels continue to establish balance on the scoresheet. Brad Waldow, who leads Saint Mary's in scoring at 17.7 points per game, led the team once again with 18 points. He was joined in double figures by Stephen Holt (16 points, seven assists, four rebounds), James Walker III (16 points) and Kerry Carter (10 points).
One area that has fluctuated throughout the early season has been rebounding, but although the Gaels only won the battle on the boards by one against the Racers, they've outrebounded their first six opponents by an average of 7.2 rebounds per game.
The early success has put Saint Mary's in some pretty lofty company from a national standpoint. The Gaels women's team also began the week undefeated (7-0, best start in program history), making Saint Mary's one of just five schools -- Connecticut, Iowa State, Syracuse and Villanova being the others -- to remain unbeaten on both the men's and women's side.
Eastern Washington certainly won't be a pushover. The Eagles come to Moraga with a 5-2 record, their best start in the last five years. Head coach Jim Hayford, a Walnut Creek native, has his squad on a roll after an 82-75 win over Seattle on Nov. 29.
The Eagles bring with them last week's Big Sky Conference Player of the Week in guard Tyler Harvey. The 6-foot-4 sophomore from Torrance, Calif. scored 30 points in the win over Seattle, going six of nine from beyond the arc en route to the win. He's joined in the backcourt by point guard Drew Brandon, who is averaging 11.3 points, a team-leading 8.0 rebounds per game and a Big Sky-best 6.4 assists through seven games.
Saint Mary's and Eastern Washington have played three times since 2009, with the Gaels winning all three matchups. Last year, Waldow and Holt tied for team-high honors with 16 points apiece as SMC defeated the Eagles 85-66 in Moraga.
After Sunday's game. Saint Mary's hits the road for the first time this season as it travels to take on Boise State on Dec. 14 at 6 p.m. The Gaels return to McKeon Pavilion on Dec. 19 when they host American at 7 p.m. Tickets for that game, as well as all other home games, can be purchased by clicking the Tickets link on SMCGaels.com or by calling the SMC Athletic Ticket Office at (925) 631-GoTx.