By Janie McCauley Associated Press
MORAGA, Calif. — Saint Mary’s took Gonzaga right out of its game, on both ends of the court. In the paint and on the perimeter, the Gaels made all the timely stops down the stretch.
Matthew Dellavedova hit five 3-pointers on the way to 26 points and also dished out six assists, and Saint Mary’s pulled off a rare rout of the 21st-ranked Bulldogs with an 83-62 win Thursday night in a matchup of the West Coast Conference’s fiercest rivals.
“I think this team is better than the one last year. Going into this game I thought, this is one of their better teams in a while,” Saint Mary’s coach Randy Bennett said of the Zags. “We played at a high level.”
Brad Waldow added 17 points and 10 rebounds and Stephen Holt had 13 points and six assists for the Gaels (16-2, 5-0) at a rocking McKeon Pavilion, where a standing-room only crowd packed the arena for a nationally televised showdown that’s always the biggest draw of the season here. Students stormed the court after the final buzzer.
“It’s a really big rivalry game. We’re happy to get a win and keep it going in conference,” Dellavedova said. “We definitely defended well inside. We worked really hard on our defense. We had confidence we could win the game.”
Saint Mary’s beat Gonzaga 81-62 in the WCC tournament final during the school’s 2010 run to the NCAA tournament regional semifinals.
Elias Harris had 17 points and 11 rebounds and Kevin Pangos scored 12 for the Bulldogs (13-3, 3-1), who had their eight-game winning streak snapped. Gonzaga lost in early December to Illinois and Michigan State, marking another tough nonconference schedule under coach Mark Few.
Clint Steindel knocked down a 3 with 15:25 left that put Saint Mary’s ahead 48-37 and the Gaels made key stops down the stretch to extend the lead. They won their sixth straight since losing to now-No. 4 Baylor 72-59 on Dec. 22.
“They outhustled us, they outcompeted us,” Harris said.
Dellavedova hit big 3s with 10:05 left, at the 5:22 mark and again with 3:43 remaining to keep his team in control. He had a lay-in with 2:52 to go and jumped in the passing lanes on defense to cause havoc for the Zags.
The gutsy Australian guard — who had a career-high 27 points in Monday’s win over San Francisco — sat down to a rousing ovation with 1:29 left. He finished 10 for 16 from the field — 5 of 10 from long range — and scored 15 of his points in the first half, including six during an 8-0 spurt to end the half and give the Gaels a 37-29 lead at the break.
“We could never get consecutive stops,” Few said. “We went to a zone and got a couple of stops, but they also pressed into us on offense and we weren’t getting good ball screens and we were holding onto the ball a little bit too long, a little bit too much one-on-one. They just thoroughly outplayed us.”