MORAGA, Calif. -- Tough defense down the stretch turned a close game into a Senior Night celebration as the Saint Mary's men's basketball team defeated Santa Clara 80-67 on Saturday in Moraga.
Matthew Dellavedova, playing his final game in McKeon Pavilion, led Saint Mary's (26-5, 14-2 West Coast Conference) with 21 points. Dellavedova also set the school's all-time scoring record, passing Daniel Kickert.
Stephen Holt added 13 for the Gaels, and senior Mitchell Young had 12.
Marc Trasolini led Santa Clara (21-10, 9-7) with 21 points.
"(Santa Clara) came in and their focus was good. They were ready to play. I thought they played at a high level, especially in the first half," Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said. "Down the stretch, we got stops when we needed to. We hit our free throws down the stretch."
Leading by just three with three minutes to play, Saint Mary's had some work to do.
The truly big plays came at the defensive end. A steal by Brad Waldow helped get Holt to the line, where he converted a pair of free throws to put Saint Mary's up 68-62 with 2:10 left.
Great defense forced Santa Clara into a pair of long 3-pointers, the Gaels grabbed the rebounds and, when the Broncos had to foul, iced the game from the line to get the win.
Saint Mary's owned the boards yet again Saturday, outrebounding Santa Clara 42-32.
The first eight minutes of the second half featured a back and forth battle, with the Gaels unable to pull away and the Broncos doing just enough to keep the margin razor-thin.
Things got a bit louder in the few moments to follow. Coming out of a media timeout, Matt Hodgson extended the lead a bit with two free throws.
Hodgson then made his presence felt on the defensive end, altering a shot and forcing Santa Clara into an empty possession. Holt followed with a rhythm 3-pointer from the corner, and Saint Mary's found itself up 55-48 with 10:25 left.
Santa Clara surged back, taking a 58-57 lead with just under eight minutes to play on a pair of free throws by Trasolini.
Saint Mary's led 36-35 at halftime in an entertaining, albeit sloppy at times, first half.
The Broncos got out to the early 9-4 lead, taking the five-point advantage on a jumper by Trasolini.
Fighting their way back into the game, the Gaels got big offensive contributions from their Australian contingent. Young was effective down low, scoring 10 points and grabbing four rebounds before the break.
Jorden Page did his work from outside, scoring seven early points that included one big shot from downtown.
"Guys weren't their norm, and you wouldn't be because there were a lot of emotions. We had to get through that, and I'm glad we did," Bennett said. "Second half, I thought we calmed down and played a little better."
Saint Mary's will next see action in Las Vegas at the WCC Tournament. The Gaels enter the tournament as the No. 2 seed, and will play Saturday at the Orleans Arena.