St. Mary’s goes for baker’s dozen

Most offshore sports books featured on the SportsOptions odds product have Gonzaga as a 2½ point favorite over St. Mary’s, with the total set at 139.

St. Mary’s (22-2 SU/11-8 ATS) is off an 84-73 home win over San Diego last Thursday as 19-point favorites. Rob Jones scored 28 points and grabbed eight rebounds, as 16th-ranked Saint Mary’s remained undefeated in West Coast Conference play.

Stephen Holt scored 23 points, while Matthew Dellavedova added 17 for the Gaels, who have won 12 straight overall since dropping a 72-59 decision to Baylor on December 22 in the Las Vegas Classic.

San Diego shot 68 percent from the field in the first half, and as a result the Gaels trailed by four at halftime, 42-38. Dellavedova scored seven points during a 9-2 run in the second half that gave the Gaels a 67-62 lead with 7:30 remaining and they did enough down the stretch to fend off the pesky Toreros, who upset Saint Mary’s 74-66 in San Diego last season.

St. Mary’s shot 46 percent overall (29-of-63) and 8-of-19 from long range (42 percent) in the win. Saint Mary’s is one of eight teams in Division I to win at least 25 games in each of the last four seasons. Their ranking this week in the AP poll (No. 16) is the highest since 1989. The highest ranking ever for the program is No. 14, a mark held in the first poll of the 1958-59 season.

The Gaels are a veteran squad with four starters back from last year’s 26-9 team that missed out on the NCAA Tournament, instead settling for the NIT where they promptly lost 71-70 in the first round to Kent State.

Dellavedova leads the team in scoring this season with 15.5 PPG and Jones averages an impressive double-double consisting of 14.8 PPG and 10.7 RPG. Holt is also in double figures with 11.2 PPG.

Gonzaga (18-4 SU/9-12-1 ATS) is coming off a 72-60 win at Pepperdine on Saturday as -12 point road favs. Kevin Pangos and Robert Sacre each scored 15 points, lifting the Bulldogs over the Pepperdine Waves in a WCC tussle. Guy Landry Edi added 13 points for the Bulldogs, who bounced back from an 83-73 loss at BYU last Thursday night.

The Bulldogs started the game on a 17-5 run and eventually took a 35-21 lead into the break. Gonzaga pulled away late in the second half with a 10-0 run to make it a 60-48 game with 4:15 left and Pepperdine never got closer than eight the rest of the way.

The Bulldogs came into the game having shot just 4-of-30 from three point range over their previous two games, but they found their touch from outside against the Waves, connecting on 44 percent from downtown (7-of-16).

While the loss to BYU knocked Gonzaga out of the national rankings, the Bulldogs are still in the race for the conference title.

Gonzaga is well balanced, with four players making solid contributions. Leading the way is Harris, who checks in with 13.3 PPG and 7.7 RPG. Pangos adds 13.0 PPG, while Sacre averages 11.7 PPG and 6.6 RPG. Gary Bell is chipping in 9.8 PPG and Sam Dower is good for 8.9 PPG and 3.9 boards per game.

This is a big revenge game for Gonzaga, which dropped an 83-62 decision at St. Mary’s on January 21 as a four-point road ‘dog. However, the Zags are on a current 0-6-1 ATS run in conference games and 2-6 ATS against winning teams (above .600), although they have responded well when returning home after three or more consecutive road games, going 8-3 ATS.

St. Mary’s counters with an 8-3 ATS mark when facing winning teams and the road team is 4-1 ATS when these two meet.

The Gaels are 11-0 atop the WCC standings while the Bulldogs are second at 8-2. Even if Gonzaga wins out the rest of the way, it will still need help from someone else to beat St. Mary’s to extend its streak of consecutive regular-season crowns to 12.

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