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Gaels and Toreros tangle in WCC affair

The 18th-ranked Saint Mary's Gaels put an 11- game win streak on the line this evening, as they welcome the San Diego Toreros to Moraga for a West Coast Conference matchup at McKeon Pavilion.

Randy Bennett's Gaels are clicking on all cylinders right now, at 21-2 overall and a perfect 10-0 in conference play. It is the best overall start for SMC in school history. Saint Mary's has not suffered a loss since December 22nd against Big 12 power Baylor (72-59). Most recently, the Gales remained unbeaten in league play with an 80-66 victory at BYU this past weekend.

Bill Grier's Toreros have struggled this season and enter this contest five games under .500 overall (8-13) and three games below the mark in-conference (3-6). San Diego is coming off an 84-70 loss at San Francisco and has lost two of its last three games overall.

The Gaels are seeking the regular-season sweep after posting a 78-72 victory at San Diego back on January 5th. With the win, Saint Mary's sports a narrow 37-35 lead in the all-time series.

With a -4.9 scoring margin, it is no wonder the Toreros have found wins hard to come by. The team lacks any real scoring depth, netting a meager 66.4 ppg, despite shooting a decent .440 from the floor. Another area of concern for the team is the lack of production on the boards. USD is being outrebounded by nearly five rebounds per game. Johnny Dee is the only player on the team currently averaging double figures at 14.5 ppg. Chris Manresa and Darian Norris are just below the mark with 9.4 and 9.1 ppg, respectively. The Toreros finally put together a strong offensive showing last time out, shooting a cool .509 from the floor against San Francisco. Unfortunately, it didn't carry over the defensive end, as the Dons racked up 84 points in a 14-point romp. Ken Rancifer led the Toreros with 17 points. Dee finished with 13, while Dennis Kramer and Manresa added nine points apiece.

The Gaels are getting it done in just about every facet of the game, leading the WCC in field-goal percentage (.483) and scoring defense (60.3 ppg). The team has a number of invaluable contributors, headlined by Matthew Dellavedova and Rob Jones. Dellavedova leads the team in scoring (15.4 ppg) and assists (6-4 apg) with latter tops in the conference. Jones has the ability to score from anywhere on the floor, but enjoys the play down low, averaging 14.3 points and a WCC-best 10.8 rebounds per game. Stephen Holt (10.7 ppg) is a viable third scoring option and leads the WCC in steals. The Gaels displayed their offensive firepower in the road win at BYU this past weekend, as four players finished in double figures. Brad Waldow hit 8-of-10 from the floor to finish with a game-high 19 points. Clint Steindl came off the bench with 16 points. Jones just missed a double-double with 13 points and nine rebounds, while Dellavedova tallied 10 points, seven boards and four assists.

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