LAS VEGAS – The Saint Mary's men's basketball team advanced to its 13th-straight West Coast Conference Championships semifinal appearance with an 80-69 victory over fifth-seeded Pepperdine Saturday at Orleans Arena.
With the victory, Saint Mary's improved to 22-10 on the season. Pepperdine ends its season at 15-16. Saint Mary's also extended its win streak over the Waves to 16 straight games and moved to 8-3 in WCC Tournament games played in Las Vegas.
The Gaels will play a semifinal matchup against top-seeded Gonzaga at 6 p.m. Monday night on ESPN. The Bulldogs advanced in the tournament with a thrilling 77-75 victory over Santa Clara. The other semifinal game will feature second-seeded BYU against No. 3 San Francisco in an 8:30 tipoff on ESPN2.
Junior forward Brad Waldow led the Gaels with a game-high 21 points and eight rebounds, while seniors Stephen Holt and Beau Levesque added 15 points apiece. Guard Amadi Udenyi led the Waves with 13 points.
Despite a slow start that saw the Gaels make just one of their first seven shots, SMC shot 50 percent from the field and 42.9 from behind the 3-point arc.
The Gaels led by as many as 16 second half points, the largest margin coming on a spectacular dunk by junior guard Kerry Carter with 12:44 remaining then again on a layup by Matt Hodgson 38 seconds later.
The Waves chipped away at the lead, thanks to a pair of 3-point field goals by All-WCC forward Stacy Davis. Neither team scored a field goal over the next two minutes. A Malte Kramer 3-pointer cut the lead to seven points with 8:39 remaining.
Carter built the lead back to 10 with a 3-point field goal with 6:55 on the clock. A Waldow free throw and Levesque layup put the lead back at 13 with just more than four minutes left.
Saint Mary’s used a balanced attack in the first half, with eight of the nine players who saw action scoring at least two points. Holt led the Gaels during the first 20 minutes with a game-high 11 points, while Waldow scored 10.
As a team, the Gaels shot 51.6 percent from the field in the first half, despite a 1-for-7 effort to open the game. SMC also went 7-of-12 from behind the 3-point arc and outrebounded the Waves 17-13 over the first 20 minutes.
Pepperdine led early, going ahead by as many as four points when Nikolas Skouen connected on a 3-pointer to put the Waves ahead 12-8 with 13:40 left.
A Garrett Jackson jumper and a pair of Waldow free throws tied the game at 12-12. The two teams traded the lead several times before the Gaels went on a 19-6 run to close out the half and hold a 13 point halftime lead at 41-28.