St. Mary’s leaves no doubt about rule of WCC in rout of Santa Clara

St. Mary’s leaves no doubt about rule of WCC in rout of Santa Clara

SANTA CLARA — Saint Mary’s played like the team picked to win the West Coast Conference.

Santa Clara looked nothing like the team that stunned WCC powerhouse Gonzaga two days earlier.

The result was a wipeout in a matchup of two teams that arrived at Leavey Center with 3-0 conference records. The visiting Gaels raced out to a 9-0 lead then used a 21-0 run over 6 minutes to open a 30-6 lead on the way to a never-in-doubt 73-49 triumph Saturday afternoon.

Saint Mary’s (13-6, 4-0), which staggered through the early season, losing five of six games during one stretch, played a nearly flawless first half to forge a 47-18 lead at the break.

The Gaels had 12 assists and zero turnovers, outscored the Broncos 16-3 in second-chance points, 26-10 in the paint and 9-0 off turnovers over the first 20 minutes. They blocked five shots in the first half and allowed just seven baskets.

The Broncos (12-7, 3-1) showed none of the crisp, aggressive play that sparked a 77-76 win over the Zags in front of a capacity crowd, including Santa Clara legend Steve Nash, and snapped a 26-game drought against the WCC kingpins.

The Gaels’ lead reached 39-9 with sophomore All-WCC guard Aidan Mahaney hit a 3-pointer with 3:06 left in the half. The Broncos had made just 3 of 19 shots at that point.

Santa Clara appeared to suffer a huge letdown two days after their fans stormed the court to celebrate the Gonzaga win. Even so, this was unexpected.

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The Broncos didn’t get closer than 25 points in the second half until the final 5 minutes.

Saint Mary’s has won 10 of 11 games since a Dec. 1 neutral-site loss to Boise State, and has prevailed in 14 of its past 17 matchups against its rival in a series that dates back to 1910.

Mahaney led the Gaels with 18 points, including 4-for-6 on 3’s, and reserve forward Luke Barrett scored17 points on 7-for-9 shooting. Point guard Augustas Marciulionis tied his career high with 10 assists and center Mitchell Saxen 10 points along with four of the Gaels’ six blocked shots.

Christoph Tilly, a 7-foot sophomore from Germany, led the Broncos with 11 points. Sophomore Adama-Alpha Bal, who made the game-winning basket against Gonzaga and is Santa Clara’s leading scorer, managed just four points and missed eight of his nine shots.