The Saint Mary's Gaels improved to 23-3 Saturday evening as they outlasted the Santa Clara Broncos 82-67. Santa Clara hung close, trailing by three at the under eight timeout in the second half, but SMC pulled away late. The win improves the Gaels to 12-1 in conference play, leaving them a game ahead of Gonzaga. Santa Clara dropped to 0-12 and is closing in on securing the bottom seed in the WCC tournament.
Rob Jones led the way for Saint Mary's as he led the team with 25 points and 12 rebounds. The performance marked his 15th double-double of the season and he is now averaging 14.6 points per game and 10.6 rebounds per game. He got a lot of help from scoring leader Matthew Dellavedova who contributed 16 points and 10 assists.
Santa Clara got another strong performance from freshman guard Denzel Johnson. He scored 17 points, marking the fifth time in six games he has scored in double digits. He got a significant boost in minutes at that point when Kevin Foster was first sidelined due to his DUI.
Saint Mary's enters a huge week that starts on Thursday with a home contest against Loyola Marymount. The Lions dropped their first conference road game Saturday evening against Gonzaga. The Gaels then get a chance to boost their postseason profile when they travel to Murray State to face the now once-defeated Racers in a Bracketbuster matchup.
Santa Clara is not any closer to a victory as they host Gonzaga and BYU this week. The Broncos have shown some signs of improvement, but they have been coming up short. Although the season has turned ugly, a win over Gonzaga or BYU would provide a positive spin on things.