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St. Mary's vs. Portland, NCAA Schedule: Gaels Look To Continue Undefeated WCC Run

The St. Mary’s Gaels continue their WCC schedule with a trip to the Portland Pilots today at 4:00pm pacific on ESPNU. The Gaels lead the University of San Francisco Dons by a game in the WCC standings as both teams travel on the road today. The Dons continue their SoCal swing as they face Pepperdine tonight at 7:00pm pacific.

The Gaels defeated Gonzaga this week thanks once again to a strong performance by Mickey McConnell. The team received several strong efforts but McConnell continues to be the best player on the team. He’s averaging 15.1 points per game and has a strong shot WCC Player of the Year honors.

The Pilots are led by forward Luke Sikma who is averaging 14.0 points per game and 10.7 rebounds per game. The Pilots are currently 15-6 overall and 3-3 in conference play, leaving them tied with Gonzaga for fourth place in the WCC.

GAME NOTES: The Saint Mary’s Gaels will attempt to continue their incredible run through the West Coast Conference as they take on the Portland Pilots at the Chiles Center.

The Gaels made a definitive statement Thursday, defeating perennial WCC power Gonzaga on its home court in a 73-71 thriller to move to 6-0 in conference play. Gonzaga had won 85 of 90 games at home heading into Wednesday night. Saint Mary’s now sits atop the WCC standings.

The Pilots last played on Thursday night as well, earning a 79-64 victory over San Diego to move to 3-0 in conference play at the Chiles Center. The dilemma for the Pilots is that they have yet to win a WCC road game and sit at just 3-3 in league play overall.

With respect to the all-time series, tonight’s game marks the 80th meeting between Saint Mary’s and Portland. The Gaels currently hold a 51-28 lead over the Pilots.

Mickey McConnell was spectacular down the stretch in the Gaels’ victory over Gonzaga, scoring 10 of the team’s final 11 points, including an impossible, contested runner as time expired. He finished with a game-high 27 points on 10-of-17 shooting. Included in those 10 made field goals was a variety of dazzling off-balance jumpers, dagger three-pointers and driving layups. Rob Jones had a solid overall night as well, contributing 15 points and 13 rebounds, while Matthew Dellavedova added 15 points as well. McConnell’s performance only helped to establish himself as one of the better perimeter players in the nation. He currently paces the team in scoring (15.1 ppg) and assists (6.4 apg). Jones proves a solid compliment, ranking second on the team in scoring (14 ppg) and first in rebounding (7.6 rpg). Dellavedova adds 13.2 ppg for the potent Saint Mary’s attack. The Gaels are scoring a whopping 82 ppg on 50.5 percent shooting from the floor and are hitting 9.3 three-pointers per game. The mark of any strong team, the Gaels also compete on the defensive end, holding opponents to just 63.3 ppg.

Portland took advantage of a struggling San Diego squad to stay undefeated at home in league play. The Pilots racked up 44 second half points to cruise to victory. They were deadly from the perimeter over the final 20 minutes, hitting 7-of-15 three-pointers over that span. Jared Stohl led four Pilots in double figures with 16 points. Tim Douglas added 14 points, while Luke Sikma was his usually solid self on the interior, posting a double-double with 13 points and 11 boards. Eric Waterford came off the bench to round out the double digit scoring with 12 points. The Pilots have relied on Sikma and Stohl to deliver wins. Sikma is the muscle down low, averaging a team-high 14 ppg and 10.8 rpg. Stohl spreads the floor spreads, creating space for Sikma to operate. Stohl has hit a team-high 61 three-pointers and is second on the team in scoring at 13.6 ppg. Mitrovic also fills it up from the outside. He has hit 59 three-pointers and averages 12.7 ppg. Portland scores a solid 71.4 ppg, but does allow 68.8 ppg on the other end.

Portland is a quality team and plays at a nearly perfect level at home, but in terms of WCC play, the Gaels truly are flawless. They also sport an offensive attack which will give the Pilots fits.

GAME NOTES: The Saint Mary’s Gaels will attempt to continue their incredible run through the West Coast Conference as they take on the Portland Pilots at the Chiles Center.

FACTS & STATS: Site: Chiles Center (4,852) — Portland, Oregon. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Saint Mary’s-CA 11-0, Portland 11-1. Away Record: Saint Mary’s-CA 4-2, Portland 4-4. Neutral Record: Saint Mary’s-CA 3-1, Portland 0-1. Conference Record: Saint Mary’s-CA 6-0, Portland 3-3. Series Record: Saint Mary’s-Ca leads 51-28.

Saturday, January 29th, 7:00 p.m. (et)

Saint Mary’s 79, Portland 73