The St. Mary’s Gaels won their 20th game of the season, improving to 20-4 with a 79-70 victory over the Loyola Marymount Lions. 20 wins can be a magic number for power conference schools, but it will not be enough for the Gaels if they were to need an at-large bid. Saint Mary’s improved to 8-1 in conference and will retain a one-game lead over the winner of USF’s battle with Santa Clara.
The Gaels were led by senior Mickey McConnell and sophomore Matthew Dellavedova. While Dellavedova led the team with 23 points, it was McConnell who put together the more complete effort that helped St. Mary’s get the win. The WCC Player of the Year Candidate scored 16 points, dished out 10 assists, and pulled down 7 rebounds, coming up just short of a triple double.
The Gaels jumped out to a ten point lead in the first half and extended it to 15 halfway through the second half. However, the Lions mounted a comeback and actually had cut the lead to four points with 4:09 to go. McConnell quieted down LMU with a big three on the subsequent St. Mary’s possession and Loyola Marymount could never get closer than five after that.
This coming week the Gaels will face a two game stretch that could just about lock up the WCC regular season conference title. They travel to Santa Clara this Thursday and then out to San Francisco on Saturday. One of these two teams will be in second place after tonight, while the other will be tied with Gonzaga for third place at 5-3. If St. Mary’s can win both games, they would find themselves no worse than two games up on Gonzaga, two up on either SC or USF, and three games up on the third team. They’d have three conference games remaining and thus be close to locking up the conference title.