MORAGA, Calif. -- In the midst of its best start in decades, the Saint Mary's men's basketball team will look for more Thursday when it plays host to American University at 7 p.m.
The game will be streamed live on SMCGaels.com with the voice of the Gaels Alex Jensen describing the action. Live statistics will also be available through the website, and tickets are available by clicking the Tickets link or calling the SMC Athletic Ticket Office at (925) 631-GoTx.
In returning to McKeon Pavilion for their final home contest of the 2013 calendar year, the Gaels are on the hunt for a bit of school history. At 8-0, head coach Randy Bennett's group sits one game back of the best start in program history, achieved in the 1988-89 season when Lynn Nance guided Saint Mary's to a 9-0 start.
Building that record hasn't been easy. The latest win came Saturday when the Gaels raced out to a 16-point lead in the first half and held off a spirited charge from a talented Boise State squad to earn a 82-74 victory in Boise. It was Saint Mary's first road game of the season, and the win came in front of a vociferous crowd of 8,234 Broncos fans.
Instrumental in that fast start at Boise was point guard Stephen Holt. The senior from Portland, Ore. scored 16 of the Gaels' first 19 points, including four 3-pointers. He eventually finished the game with a career-high 24 points to lead all scorers.
Holt was one of five Saint Mary's players to finish in double figures at Boise. Brad Waldow finished in double digits for the eighth-straight game and added 11 rebounds for his third double-double of the season. A junior from Shingle Springs, Calif., Waldow remains SMC's leading scorer at 17.6 points per game.
James Walker III scored 14 points, Beau Levesque chipped in with 13 and Kerry Carter added 11 off the bench to round out Saint Mary's high scorers. Four of those Gaels now average double digits for the season, with Carter just a tick behind at 9.8 ppg. Carter has been one of Saint Mary's hottest players lately, scoring a career-high 18 against Eastern Washington on Dec. 8 and finishing in double digits in each of his last four games.
American University makes the cross-country trip for games against Saint Mary's and San Francisco. The Eagles bring with them a 3-5 overall record, having dropped their last game 72-67 at home against Brown.
Leading the way for AU so far this season has been guard Jesse Reed. The sophomore from Saltsburg, Pa. comes to the West Coast averaging a team-best 13.5 points per game. He is one of four Eagles averaging in double figures, with John Schoof (11.6), Tony Wroblicky (11.6) and Darius Gardner (11.0) also helping to shoulder the scoring load.
AU does have one link to Saint Mary's this season. The Eagles traveled to New York in late November to face former Gaels assistant and current Columbia head coach Kyle Smith and his Lions in a non-conference contest. Columbia held its home court, winning 61-47.
Saint Mary's and American University have met twice before, with the Gaels winning both matchups. They last met on Dec. 3, 1994 as part of the Bank One/Foothills Dodge Ram Classic in Fort Collins, Colo. Saint Mary's won 66-58.
After hosting American, the Gaels head for Hawai'i to take part in the Diamond Head Classic. Action begins in Honolulu on Dec. 22 when Saint Mary's faces South Carolina at 8 p.m. (PST). SMC will play three games in Hawai'i, then return to California to start West Coast Conference play on Dec. 30 at Pacific.