GAME NOTES: With the West Coast Conference Tournament just around the corner, the Saint Mary's Gaels try to keep their focus on the task at hand as they close out the regular season against the Santa Clara Broncos at McKeon Pavilion on Saturday night.
Locked into the second spot for the league tournament, the Gaels have won four straight games and 13 of the last 14 outings, but the squad may be a bit distracted at the moment. On Friday word came down that the program had been hit with NCAA penalties and head coach Randy Bennett would be suspended next year for five games following an investigation conducted by the NCAA Committee on Infractions.
The report states that Bennett failed "to promote an atmosphere for compliance," as the investigation centered around an unnamed former assistant coach, saying he "acted unethically when he knowingly committed recruiting violations for three prospects."
Saint Mary's will still be allowed to participate in the West Coast Conference Tournament and the NCAA Tournament, but can't play in preseason or in-season tournaments for the next two years as a result of the ruling.
As for the Broncos, currently tied with BYU for third place in the standings with a record of 9-6, they posted their second straight win and the fourth in the last five outings on Thursday night with a 79-56 victory versus Loyola Marymount at home.
In terms of the all-time series, Santa Clara owns a 136-81 advantage but it was SMC that won the first meeting of the season last month on the road in an 84-63 final.
Marc Trasolini scored a game-high 26 points and cleared eight rebounds for Santa Clara as the squad crushed Loyola Marymount at home two nights ago. Kevin Foster pitched in with 17 points, eight assists and five steals, but it was also flagged for seven turnovers as well, followed by Raymond Cowels and Evan Roquemore who produced 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Boasting four players who are scoring in double figures this season, the Broncos are also the first program n WCC history to have four active 1,000- point scorers at their disposal as well. Foster, who has made good on 90 3- pointers in 2012-13, not only leads the team in scoring with his 17,9 ppg, he is also second on the unit with 137 assists, trailing only Roquemore (11.9 ppg) who has handed out 161 over the course of 30 games to the likes of Trasolini (15.6 ppg) and Cowels (10.0 ppg).
Suiting up against Pepperdine back on Wednesday night, the Gaels made easy work of the Waves by holding the hosts to just eight points through the first 14 minutes of the meeting and eventually posting a lopsided 87-48 win which wasn't even that close. Shooting 9-of-17 behind the 3-point line and 51.6 percent from the floor overall, the Gaels were paced by Matthew Dellavedova who finished with a game-high 25 points, followed by Stephen Holt and Brad Waldow with 13 and 11 points, respectively.
Dellavedova, who already holds the school record for career assists, now needs just three points to tie and four to surpass Daniel Kickert (1,874 points) as the all-time leading scorer for the Gaels who are enjoying yet another 25-win season thanks to the effort of their star guard. The leading scorer in each of the last three outings and five of six, Dellavedova is responsible for 16.4 ppg, shooting 40.3 percent from beyond the arc, yet at the same time has issued 187 assists against only 80 turnovers for a team beating opponents by an average of 13.2 ppg.
Even though the first meeting of the season was a decisive win for the Gaels, in this case Santa Clara still has something to play for so expect the Broncos to put up a fight before falling into the loss column.
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