MORAGA, Calif. -- A long stretch at home comes to a close this week for the Saint Mary's men's basketball team as the Gaels wrap up a six-game homestand with West Coast Conference action against Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount.
The week gets underway Thursday at 7 p.m. when Pepperdine visits McKeon Pavilion in a game broadcast live online by TheW.TV. Loyola Marymount visits Saturday at 3 p.m. for a game televised in the Bay Area on Comcast SportsNet California and in Southern California on Time Warner Cable Sportsnet. In all other areas, live streaming video will be available online via TheW.TV. Live audio and live statistics for both games will also be available through SMCGaels.com.
Saint Mary's begins the week with an overall record of 14-5 and a 4-2 mark in WCC play after rallying from a seven-point halftime deficit last Saturday to defeat Pacific 79-73. Stephen Holt led the way in the victory, scoring a career-high 26 points thanks to career highs in free throws made (16) and attempted (19). Brad Waldow added 22 points and Kerry Carter also set a career high with 21.
The way in which the Gaels had to win Saturday's game -- largely from the free-throw line -- played to one of Saint Mary's strengths. Entering play this week, the Gaels ranked 24th in the nation in free throw attempts (505) and 22nd in free throws made (362). In the win over Pacific, Saint Mary's made 31 of its 43 free throws and iced the game from the line late as the Tigers tried to come back.
Where the Pacific win deviated from the Gaels' normal script a bit was in the scoring category. Holt, Waldow and Carter combined for 69 of Saint Mary's 79 points, a total that did not include normal stalwarts Beau Levesque and James Walker III due to foul trouble. Levesque enters the week third on the team in scoring at 11.4 points per game, and Walker is right behind at 11.3.
With Levesque and Walker sidelined for much of Saturday's win, the bench played a major role for the Gaels. Paul McCoy, Jordan Giusti and Dane Pineau saw increased minutes and each contributed tough defense and made big contributions in the victory.
Pepperdine enters Thursday's game with a 12-8 overall record and 5-3 mark in the WCC. The Waves traveled to the Pacific Northwest last week, losing 70-53 to Gonzaga before rebounding for a 76-65 win over Portland.
A standout frontcourt has served as the catalyst for the Waves so far this season, with the tandem of Brendan Lane and Stacy Davis providing both scoring and rebounding down low. The two have combined for 29.2 points and 15.6 rebounds per game this season with Lane, a transfer from UCLA, joining the WCC's 2012-13 Newcomer of the Year in Davis to form a potent froncourt attack.
The Gaels won both matchups with the Waves last season to extend their winning streak against Pepperdine to 13. In the final meeting of the season, an 87-48 Saint Mary's win in Malibu, Matthew Dellavedova scored 25 points to lead the charge.
Loyola Marymount enters Thursday's game against Pacific looking to right the ship after dropping its last six contests to fall to 10-10 overall and 2-6 in conference play.
The Lions also made the trek northward last week, dropping games at Portland and Gonzaga. The loss in Spokane was much closer than the final 82-72 score indicated, as Loyola Marymount dressed just seven scholarship players and rallied to take the lead at one point in the second half before the Bulldogs took over.
As has been the case over the past few seasons, point guard Anthony Ireland leads the way for Loyola Marymount this year. Now a senior, Ireland leads the team in scoring at 18.4 points per game and also averages 5.5 assists per game. Next on the scoring ledger for the Lions is a pair of freshmen, with Evan Payne (14.4) and Gabe Levin (10.5) showing already that they have the game to compete in the WCC night in and night out.
Aside from a loss in 2012, Saint Mary's has piled up the same type of recent record against LMU that it has against Pepperdine. The Gaels have won 13 of their last 14 against the Lions, including two wins last season. Their final meeting of 2013 was a 61-50 SMC win in which Holt led the way with 16 points.