The Saint Mary's opened their 2011-2012 season with purpose on Friday evening as they destroyed the Fresno Pacific Sunbirds 98-58. The Gaels return four of five starters, but will be without graduating all-conference player Mickey McConnell. The Gaels did not seem to have any trouble without him on day one as Rob Jones led them to victory with 25 points and 12 rebounds.
Fresno Pacific was never meant to be a significant challenge and they weren't for the most part. The Sunbirds cut the SMC lead to 15 with a minute left in the first half, at which point the Gaels put together a 12-2 run to put the game away early in the second half.
Saint Mary's did just about everything right Friday night as they shot 56% from the floor, grabbed a 15 rebound edge and never let Fresno Pacific get comfortable. Stephen Holt played an important role in this as he lead SMC with four steals. He also was the primary set-up man as dished out ten assists on the night. Matthew Dellavedova had five assists of his own to go with ten points. Clint Steindl scored 14 points off the bench, while Jorden Page added 12 points.
The Gaels take a distinct step-up in competition when they host the Northern Iowa Panthers. Northern Iowa is coming off a 20-14 season in which they advanced to the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament quarterfinals. The Panthers open their season Saturday night on the road against the Old Dominion Monarchs.