Moraga, CA – Two teams at opposite ends of the West Coast ranked Saint Mary's-CA Gaels.
Santa Clara has had a miserable season thus far, particularly in conference play as it has yet to taste victory against WCC opponents (0-11). Overall, the Broncos have lost twice as many games as they have won (8-16), and they are 0-9 on the road. The team is currently mired in a 12-game losing streak, its last win coming against Eastern Michigan in the opening round of the Cable Car Classic back on December 29.
As for Saint Mary's, it is an impressive 22-3 on the season, and the team had won its first 11 conference bouts before taking on fellow WCC front-runner Gonzaga on Thursday night. The Gaels suffered a 73-59 defeat in that contest, but they'll try to bounce back tonight as they prepare to take on the league's worst team in front of a home crowd that has seen them win each and every time they've stepped foot on the McKeon Pavilion hardwood this season (15-0).
The two teams met on January 21, with Saint Mary's winning at Santa Clara in a 93-77 final.
Poor defense has led to Santa Clara's dreadful record this season, as the team is giving up more than 75 ppg, with foes shooting better than 45 percent from the field and 37 percent from beyond the arc. The Broncos are netting right around 70 ppg themselves, but they're hitting just 41.1 percent of their total shots and they're routinely beaten on the glass. The team's scoring chart shows three double-digit scorers in Kevin Foster, Evan Roquemore and Niyi Harrison, although Foster has been suspended indefinitely, leaving the others to pick up the slack. Raymond Cowells III and Denzel Johnson did just that in the most recent outing against San Franciso, netting 21 and 20 points, respectively, but despite shooting 51.9 percent from the floor and nailing 14- of-23 three-point attempts, the Broncos dropped an 85-69 decision to the Dons. A 15-1 deficit in points from the foul line proved costly, as did a whopping 21 turnovers. Roquemore chipped in 14 points for Santa Clara in defeat.
Simply put, Saint Mary's failed to find its groove in the recent showdown with Gonzaga, as the Gaels shot just 38.2 percent from the field, knocked down a mere 5-of-21 three-point tries and lost the battle on the boards by a 40-26 margin. Matthew Dellavedova led SMC with 20 points, but help came only in the form of 11 points from Jorden Page and 10 from Brad Waldow. About the only bright spot for the Gaels was the fact that they committed a low eight turnovers, which is nearly four less than the team is guilty of on average this year. Dellavedova (15.7 ppg, 6.3 apg) is one of three players currently averaging double digits in the scoring column for Saint Mary's, but the team's most productive all-around player is Rob Jones, who nets 14.6 ppg while pulling down 10.6 rpg. As a collective unit, the Gaels are lighting up the scoreboard to the tune of 76.3 ppg behind typical shooting efforts of 47.7 percent overall and 36.1 percent from three-point land. Defensively, the team permits just 61.4 ppg, and it owns favorable margins in both rebounding (+7.4) and turnovers (+1.0).