The Saint Mary's Gaels continued their best start in school history as they improved to 20-2 with a 71-64 victory over the Loyola Marymount Lions. SMC overcame an early LMU run to improve to 9-0 in conference play. The Gaels hold a two game lead over the Gonzaga Bulldogs who are in Portland looking to keep pace with Saint Mary's. The Lions drop to 13-9 overall and 5-3 in conference play. They hold a game and a half lead over the San Francisco Dons who defeated Santa Clara Thursday evening.
The Gaels were led to victory by a complete effort across the starting lineup. Stephen Holt led the team with 19 points, but the star of the game was Rob Jones with 11 points and 15 rebounds. This marked his fourth straight double-double and 14th on the season. Matthew Dellavedova added 13 points and seven assists.
The Lions looked like they were going to give the Gaels all they could handle early on when they grabbed a six point lead with 4:18 to go in the first half. However, Saint Mary's closed the half with a 12-2 run and opened the second half with a 10-0 run. LMU would not cut the lead below six the rest of the way.
The Gaels head into the last weekend in January with a huge opportunity on the horizon. This Saturday they travel to Provo, Utah to face the BYU Cougars. Saint Mary's is two games up in the loss column with a WCC-opening home thrashing of BYU under the belt. If they can complete the sweep, before traveling to Gonzaga in two weeks, Saint Mary's will be an excellent position for the conference tournament.