MORAGA, Calif.—It was a day four years in the making but Matthew Dellavedova said farewell to McKeon Pavilion and made history while he did.
Saint Mary’s outlasted their longtime rival Santa Clara 80-67 on Saturday night and Dellavedova became the school’s all-time leading scorer.
With 3:52 left in the first half, Dellavedova hit a fadeaway jumper over the outstretched arm of Raymond Cowels III. Those two points gave Dellavedova 1,875 career points, passing Daniel Kickert (2002-06) for first on the school’s all-time scoring list.
"The best thing about Matt is he could care less about the scoring, the assists, any of that," Saint Mary's head coach Randy Bennett said. "He cares about his team, his team winning. It's pretty easy to coach when your bets player... the most important thing to him is his team wins."
The students section began chanting “Delly, Delly,” and during the following timeout, he got a standing ovation from the McKeon Pavilion crowd.
The win wrapped up the regular season for both squads and Saint Mary’s (26-5, 14-2 WCC) finished on a five-game winning streak.
"It was a game that seemed like there was a lot of pressure on us and you can choke those," Bennett said. "It was good for us that way."
The game against Santa Clara came less than two days after the NCAA's announcement of the sanctions against the Saint Mary's basketball program.
"During the game, I was able to focus," Bennett said. "[The NCAA sanctions] was a major distraction for me. I don't think for our team. The distraction was the senior night. Those guys have been here four years, they've had some special times."
Santa Clara (21-10, 9-7) will be the fourth seed in the WCC Championships, beginning on Wednesday.
Evan Roquemore hit a jumper which cut the Saint Mary’s lead back down to 50-48. But it was oft-used Matt Hodgson who sparked a run.
He was fouled after an offensive rebound, resulting in two free throws, giving Saint Mary’s a four-point lead. Hodgson followed that with a block on a sure dunk by Niyi Harrison and a rebound by the junior forward led to a Holt three, giving them a seven point lead.
That was the Gaels’ largest lead of the night to that point.
But Santa Clara responded with a run of its own.
The Broncos went on a 10-2 run, including five points from Marc Trasolini, to retake the lead 58-57. It was their first lead since early in the first half.
"They came in, their focus was good. They were ready to play," Bennett said. "I thought they played at a high level."
Trasolini had 21 points on the night.
Saint Mary’s retook the lead after a pair of free throws from Dellavedova and a jumper form Holt pushed the lead to three.
With the Gaels leading 63-59 with about four minutes left, Kevin Foster hit a three to cut the Saint Mary’s lead once again. But, as has happened so often this season to the Broncos, the well went dry.
Santa Clara went three minutes without another point and Saint Mary’s turned its one-point lead to an eight-point difference, all from the free throw line.
Dellavedova had a team-high 21 points on 5-for-18 shooting and now has 1,892 career points.
Saint Mary’s and Santa Clara traded the lead on a number of occasions in the first half and was indicative of the rivalry game that it is.
Santa Clara led by as much as five but Saint Mary’s fired back.
After Trasolini hit a three to give the Broncos a four-point lead, the Gaels found a rhythm. Jorden Page hit a three and then Mitchell Young converted a layup after a free throw by Holt to give Saint Mary’s a 25-23 lead.
Young had 10 first half points.
The game was tied six times in the half and the lead changed hands seven times.
Show of support
Prior to tipoff, the McKeon Pavilion crowd began chanting “Randy, Randy” in support of Bennett who received heavy sanctions against the men’s basketball program on Friday.
"I tried staying focus," Bennett said. "It meant a lot."
Praise of his seniors
Bennett could not say enough about the group of seniors and their leadership. This included Dellavedova, Young, Kyle Rowley, Paul McCoy, and Tim Williams.
"We haven't had a better leadership group than that," Bennett said. "We've had some great ones but we haven't had better than that. Each of them has a story how they got here, how their career went. Each story is pretty special."
Williams, who has been sidelines all season with an injury, entered the game with less than a minute and scored his first points of the season a three at the buzzer.
WCC Championship seeding
1. Gonzaga (16-0)
2. Saint Mary’s (14-2)
3. BYU (10-6)
4. Santa Clara (9-7)
5. San Francisco (7-9)*
6. San Diego (7-9)
7. Pepperdine (4-12)*
8. Portland (4-12)
9. Loyola Marymount (1-15)
* - owns tiebreaker
First round game (Wednesday):
No. 8 Portland vs. No. 9 Loyola Marymount
Second round (Thursday):
No. 5 San Francisco vs. 8/9 winner
No. 6 San Diego vs. No. 7 Pepperdine
3. BYU vs. TBD
4. Santa Clara vs. TBD
No. 2 Saint Mary’s vs. TBD
No. 1 Gonzaga vs. TBD