SANTA CLARA, Calif. – It might have officially been Senior Day for Santa Clara, but it was Gaels senior Stephen Holt who stole the show at the Leavey Center today.
The Portland, Ore. native scored a career-best 35 points as the Saint Mary's men's basketball team cruised to a 76-54 win over the Broncos in their final road game of the regular season.
Saint Mary’s improved to 20-9 on the season and 10-6 in the West Coast Conference, The Gaels equaled the 20-win plateau for the seventh-straight season and the eighth time under Randy Bennett. Every season in its history that SMC won at least 20 games, it advanced to postseason play.
Santa Clara fell to 12-17 overall and 5-11 in the WCC. The two teams complete their regular seasons next weekend then head to Las Vegas for the annual WCC Championships March 6-11 at Orleans Arena.
"Today we made shots and played well," said Bennett. "Holt played really well. All the way around, we all competed today."
The Gaels conclude their regular season at home next weekend when they host Pacific Northwest rivals Portland and Gonzaga at McKeon Pavilion. Tickets are available for Thursday’s game against the Pilots. Saturday’s game against Gonzaga is sold out, but tickets could become available mid-week.
With the win, Saint Mary's avenged a rare 57-55 home loss to the Broncos earlier this season and improved its record against Santa Clara to 13 victories in the last 15 meetings.
Saint Mary's shot 59.2 percent from the field and 64.3 from 3-point range, both season highs. Holt was the primary contributor to the team's shooting success, going 14-of-17 from the field and 4-of-6 from behind the 3-point arc.
The Gaels also outrebounded Santa Clara by a 36-18 margin, the best for the Gaels against a WCC team this year.
After scoring just seven points in a surprising loss at San Francisco on Thursday, Holt set season highs with 14 field goals and four 3-pointers en route to his best-ever scoring output as a Gael. He came out of the game with less than two minutes remaining after scoring his final basket on a runner in the lane.
Holt also moved into 12th on the school's career scoring list with 1,267 points. He surpassed Mickey McConnell and David Sivulich and is just 32 points away from 11th place Rick Bernard.
"Early on I just wanted to be aggressive and get some easy buckets," said Holt. "I was able to get into the paint. When they collapsed, I wanted to kick it out to our shooters. We also played really well on the defensive end."
The two teams played fairly even for the first few minutes of the game, but a 24-0 run by the Gaels and a 10 minute scoring drought by SCU put the Broncos into a significant deficit they could never overcome.