MORAGA, CA—When a team plays games on back-to-back nights, it is always a good thing to give players a rest.
Unfortunately for Saint Mary’s, they were not able to do that as much as they would have liked. On multiple occasions, Saint Mary’s build significant leads but Yale pushed back just enough to keep things interesting.
But two separate 10-0 runs gave Saint Mary’s the cushion they would need to take the 78-62 win over Yale on Sunday afternoon.
The Gaels (10-3) have won 16 straight non-conference home games and host Harvard on New Year’s Eve in the back end of their two-game in two nights tilt.
Matthew Dellavedova began the Saint Mary’s charge in the second half as the Gaels went on a 10-0 run and were able to extend their lead to 19 at 56-37.
“We had to keep them off the offensive boards,” Dellavedova said. “If we could cut down on that we thought we could pull away in the second half.”
Saint Mary’s held Yale (4-9) to 29 percent shooting in the first half but he Bulldogs were able to stay within striking distance with 16 offensive rebounds in the half.
“Our big emphasis for the game and the halftime was rebounding,” Saint Mary’s head coach Randy Bennett. “We went into the game knowing this is the key, this is where they’re strength is.”
Saint Mary’s held the Bulldogs to 12 rebounds in the second half and looked to be in control, enough so Bennett could rest Dellavedova.
Dellavedova came out of the game and Yale answered with consecutive threes from Nick Victor and Jeremiah Kreisberg and cut the lead back to 13.
The threes paired with two unsuccessful possessions for the Gaels brought Dellavedova back to the scorers table.
His poise and composure calmed the Gaels and helped them rebuild a 19-point lead. Dellavedova left the game later in the second half and it happened again.
Saint Mary’s committed three turnovers and a flagrant foul and Yale went on a quick 5-0 run, cutting the lead to 14 and bringing Dellavedova back into the game.
The lead when he left? Nineteen.
“Our guards didn’t take care of the ball in those situations,” Bennett said. “We haven’t played a lot without Matt and now with Stephen [Holt] back, we can play some without him. We need to be able to play without him so we can rest him.”
“We’re not a finished product by any stretch. Getting [Holt] playing some one so we can bring Matt out and keep him a little more fresh is where we need to get to.”
Dellavedova played 32 minutes, his second lowest total of the season, and finished with a game-high 24 points and six assists on 9-for-13 shooting. It is the third time this season the senior guard has totaled better than 20 points and five assists.
Holt finished with nine points and six rebounds off the bench in his third game back after a bone bruise in his left knee.
Beau Levesque, Brad Waldow, and Jorden Page each had 10 points.
Dellavedova had gone 5-for-22 in his last three games but came out on fire in the first half.
Dellavedova hit three of his first four from beyond the arc and hit back-to-back threes to put Saint Mary’s up 33-19.
With the Bulldogs down 12 in the first half, Greg Kelley hit consecutive threes of his own and brought Yale back within six.
Dellavedova responded immediately and hit a fadeaway jumper to quell the Yale run.
The Harvard game is Saint Mary’s last before the beginning of league play when the open at home against Loyola Marymount on Saturday, Jan. 5.
Follow Zack Farmer on Twitter: @Zack_Farmer