MORAGA, Calif. -- A dose of home cooking was all the Saint Mary's men's basketball needed to get back on a roll, as the Gaels knocked off visiting Cal Poly 86-68 on Saturday at McKeon Pavilion.
Coming off losses in the final two games of the DIRECTV Classic in Anaheim, Saint Mary's (5-2) turned to a familiar approach to restore equilibrium -- balance.
That started in the first half. Saint Mary's took a 42-35 lead into halftime, thanks to five players scoring six points or more. Mitchell Young led that charge, scoring nine points before the break.
"I think we were more patient. I thought we tried making it happen in one play all the time down in Anaheim," Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said. "That's not the way our offense works, that's not the way any offense works."
The Mustangs kept things close with an efficient offense. They shot 60 percent from the floor in the first half, including 6 for 8 from long distance, and finished the game at 52.1 percent.
"I didn't think we were that bad defensively but they were hard for us to guard," Bennett said. "They hit a lot of 3's the last seven or eight minutes of the first half.
Saint Mary's managed to keep the advantage throughout the second half, relying on that balanced attack to keep the lead.
The Gaels also provided more than a few highlight reel plays. Brad Waldow threw down multiple big dunks and guards Jorden Page and Matthew Dellavedova dished the ball to spots where the big men could convert.
"We came back from L.A. and knew we had to get better," Dellavedova said. "Practice
was intense, as usual, but I think everyone brought a great energy and
focus to make sure we improved individually and as a team."
That approach showed up on the final stat sheet. Waldow led the way with 17 points. Dellavedova added 13 points and nine assists. Matt Hodgson scored a career-high 13, Page scored 12 and Young added 11.
The Gaels got the win without the services of shooting guard Stephen Holt, who missed the game with what Bennett called a "bone bruise" and will miss "days to weeks instead of weeks to months."
Chris Eversley led Cal Poly (2-3) with 25 points.
Saint Mary's now hits the road, heading to Iowa to take on Drake on Wednesday. That game is set for a 5 p.m. tip, and fans can listen Alex Jensen call the game live on SMCGaels.com.