St. Mary's pounds Loyola Marymount, extends winning streakJan 16, 2009 - 7:17 AM MORAGA, California (Ticker) -- A great start set Saint Mary's up for what could be a historic Saturday.
Diamon Simpson and Ian O'Leary both scored 14 points as No. 25 Saint Mary's celebrated its first appearance as a ranked team with a 78-53 victory over Loyola Marymount on Thursday.
Omar Samhan had 12 points and 11 rebounds and Patrick Mills chipped in 11 points and a career-high eight assists for the Gaels (16-1, 3-0 WCC), who extended their school-record winning streak to 13 games.
"Our guys did a good job, just being ready to play," Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said. "We were able to play a lot of guys and had pretty balanced minutes."
Saint Mary's only loss of the season came against Texas-El Paso in the first round of the 76 Classic on November 27.
The Gaels also tied the school record for the best start to a season, matching the 1988-89 squad. They will go for the record against Pepperdine on Saturday.
"It's great, but I think we try to focus game by game really," Saint Mary's senior guard Carlin Hughes said. "We don't try to look at the big picture yet. It's really too early for that sort of stuff. As long as we come ready to play every game, then we'll be fine."
Although Saint Mary's has won nine of the previous 10 meetings with Pepperdine dating to 2003-04, Bennett is not concerning himself with the record.
"You can't worry about all those things," he said. "The only thing you can worry about is what Saint Mary's is doing. If we're getting better ... if we're working hard every day ... if we're ready to play and play right. We've played long enough that we know how we're supposed to play. That's been our focus."
The Gaels came out firing right from the start, scoring 13 of the game's first 15 points and taking a 28-12 advantage on two free throws by Samhan with 7:46 remaining.
Jarred DuBois came back with a layup for the Lions, but Saint Mary's then ripped off a 10-2 run. Simpson had six points during the burst.
Saint Mary's led 44-23 at the break behind 10 points by Samhan, Simpson and O'Leary as it shot 57 percent (17-of-30) from the field.
The Gaels then scored the first seven points after intermission, going on to lead by 33 points with 15:10 remaining.
Simpson finished 7-of-10 from the field and O'Leary ended up 5-of-7 with two 3-pointers as Saint Mary's shot 52.5 percent (31-of-59).
It was a nice breakout for the Gaels, who had failed to surpass 66 points in their previous two games.
"A lot of shooting is momentum," Bennett said. "I think our shot selection improved as we were a little inconsistent there for a while. I don't think everyone knew their role yet, but I think we're getting there."
DuBois scored 17 points for Loyola Marymount (1-17, 0-2), which dropped to 0-9 on the road this season.
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- No. 3 Gonzaga blows past Loyola Marymount Feb 13
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- No. 3 Gonzaga pulls away to rout St. Mary's Jan 23
- Gaels and Zags square off in pivotal WCC clash Jan 22
- Balanced Zags beat LMU Jan 18
- First vs. worst in the WCC, as Zags visit Lions Jan 17
- Wichita State has no problem with Loyola Marymount Dec 23
- Lions and Shockers meet in Diamond Head Classic Dec 22
- Harrison guides St. John's past St. Mary's Dec 20
- Gaels come calling on 20th-ranked Red Storm Dec 19