MORAGA, Calif. -- A game that stayed close through the better part of one half turned dramatically in Saint Mary's favor after halftime, as the Gaels beat Eastern Washington 85-66 at McKeon Pavilion on Sunday.
At least through the early stages of the game, it looked like Eastern Washington might never miss a shot.
But although the Eagles held the lead for much of the first half, the largest lead they could amass came when Collin Chiverton ran off five straight points to make it 13-7 Eastern Washington with just over four minutes played.
That Saint Mary's kept things close while the Gaels worked to find their shooting touch was a credit to the play down low of sophomore Brad Waldow.
The 6-foot-9 post man from Shingle Springs, Calif. scored 10 points in the first half, most coming on hard-fought putbacks down low, keeping Saint Mary's (3-0) within reach. He finished the night with 16 points and six rebounds.
The Gaels managed to pull into the lead just before the break, leading 37-33 at intermission. That was as close as Eastern Washington would be for the rest of the night.
"We closed the half with a good run," Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said. "I thought Jordie (Page) really helped us there, Brad really helped us, and we did a nice job defensively the last five minutes. I think we held them to two points and then we had a run. Only way we could get a run though was to stop them and we finally stopped them."
A 16-3 run right out of the locker room gave the Gaels the decided advantage, and the stretch was a product of good team play all the way around
Waldow, Stephen Holt, Mitchell Young, James Walker III and Matthew Dellavedova all contributed with points, and by the time the Eagles were able to stem the tide, Saint Mary's owned a 53-36 lead with 15 minutes to play.
Holt finished with 16 points to tie Waldow for game-high honors. Walker and Jorden Page each added 12, and Matthew Dellavedova had a strong all-around night with nine points, eight assists and six rebounds.
Justin Crosgile scored 13 points to lead Eastern Washington (0-3).
Another encouraging mark was Saint Mary's work on the boards. A few nights after struggling on the glass against Utah State, the Gaels outrebounded the Eagles 42-34.
"We had to bounce back from the Utah State game," Waldow said. "Particularly the bigs, we didn't play well. We wanted to make a statement in this game."
Saint Mary's will spend Thanksgiving on the road, heading to Southern California to take on Drexel in the first round of the Anaheim Classic. That game will tip at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday. The Gaels will also play tournament games on Friday and Sunday. Live audio of all three games will be available on SMCGaels.com.