Saint Mary’s is ready for a challenge after opening the season with five straight home victories by an average of 22 points.
The Gaels (5-0) look to keep their perfect record intact when they square off with Vanderbilt on Wednesday night in the Wooden Legacy at Anaheim, Calif.
The winner of the game between Saint Mary’s and the Commodores (2-2) will meet either Washington or Fresno State in Thursday night’s title game. The losers will battle in the consolation game.
The Gaels, who are narrowly outside the Top 25, are allowing an average of 51.6 points entering the matchup against their toughest opponent of the young season.
“We’re excited. Winning the games at home that we did is not easy. And there’s a lot of pressure on that,” Saint Mary’s coach Randy Bennett said after Saturday’s 76-48 drubbing of Hofstra. “… Now we’re ready to go on the road. This is a good tournament. John Wooden’s name is on it and that makes it special. And we play Vanderbilt, an SEC team, so this will be a really good test for us.”
Alex Ducas scored 20 points against Hofstra and leads the Gaels with a 13.8 points per game average. Mitchell Saxen is also playing well with averages of 13.4 points and a team-best 9.8 rebounds.
Vanderbilt opened the season with losses to Memphis and Southern Miss before rebounding with an overtime victory at Temple and Friday’s 76-43 home rout of Morehead State.
The Commodores held the Eagles to 27 percent shooting from the field and 3 of 27 (11.1 percent) from 3-point range. Vanderbilt also had a 50-33 rebounding advantage.
“That was a great win for us,” Commodores coach Jerry Stackhouse said. “I thought our starters came out and really set the tone on the defensive end. We shared the ball.”
Tyrin Lawrence scored a season-high 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting to pace Vanderbilt.
Jordan Wright leads the Commodores with a 11.3 scoring average. Myles Stute chips in with 10.5 points and a team-leading 6.3 rebounds per game.
Vanderbilt is 3-0 against Saint Mary’s. The most recent meeting was in the first round of the 2015 NIT when the Commodores posted a 75-64 road win.
–Field Level Media