The 24th-ranked Saint Mary's Gaels begin a game road trip tonight with a visit to the Leavey Center to square off with the Santa Clara Broncos in a West Coast Conference battle.
This will be 211th encounter in the storied rivalry between these programs. Santa Clara leads the series 131-79, and has gone 62-24 in the series at home. However, the Gaels have won the last five games against the Broncos.
Saint Mary's comes in with an 18-2 overall record after defeating Pepperdine 61-47 on Thursday for its eighth straight victory. The last Gaels' loss came at the hands of the nationally ranked Baylor Bears. Head coach Randy Bennett has led his team to a 7-0 start in the WCC, where the program has done very well in recent history. The Gaels have finished no lower than third in the conference in each of the last eight seasons. Saint Mary's leads the league in scoring defense, scoring margin, rebound margin, and assist to turnover ratio.
The Gaels are led by the dynamic duo of Rob Jones and Matthew Dellavedova. Jones is the team's second leading scorer with an average of 15.4 ppg and the conference's leader in rebounding with 10.5 rpg The senior forward has been phenomenal as he has already recorded 12 double-doubles this season. Dellavedova is one of the best point guards in the nation this season. The Australian guard is averaging a team-best 15.2 ppg and a WCC-best 6.5 apg. Stephen Holt is making his mark on the defensive end, as he leads the league with 2.2 steals per game. Holt also leads the WCC with a 2.4 assist to turnover ratio. The sophomore guard has been electrifying in league play, shooting 67.3 percent from the field and 61.1 percent from three-point range.
Santa Clara is the only remaining winless team in WCC play as it comes in with an 8-9 overall record and an 0-4 conference mark. The Broncos suffered a 95-78 loss to the Portland Pilots in their most recent outing. The Broncos' poor defensive effort against Portland was nothing surprising as they have not been able to stop anybody in league action. Santa Clara's allowed average of 84.0 ppg in WCC play is the highest in the WCC. The Broncos rely on perimeter shooting on the offensive end and lead the conference in three-pointers made with 8.8 per contest.
The Broncos will need a big game out of star guard Kevin Foster to pull off the upset. Foster is the leading scorer (17.5 ppg) and top three-point shooter (3.5 per game) in the WCC. The junior guard will look to ride the momentum of his 22-point and 5-assist outing against BYU. Evan Roquemore is contributing 14.1 ppg and a team high 5.4 apg this year. Niyi Harrison adds 10.2 ppg and a team-best 6.2 rpg.