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Saint Mary's sets school's best start, pounds Pepperdine

Jan 18, 2009 - 6:46 AM MORAGA, California (Ticker) -- With the way that it started against Pepperdine, it is no surprise that Saint Mary's is off to the best start in school history.

Diamon Simpson scored a season-high 24 points and Carlin Hughes added 16 as No. 25 Saint Mary's pummeled Pepperdine, 96-46, in Saturday's West Coast Conference contest.

Patrick Mills had 13 points and a career-high nine assists for the Gaels (17-1, 4-0 WCC), who extended their school-record winning streak to 14 games.

Saint Mary's also set the mark for the school's best start, topping the 16-1 record by the 1988-89 squad.

"It's a good feeling, but we weren't trying to focus on that," Hughes said of the record-setting start. "As I said the other night, we're not focusing on that kind of stuff, we're not looking at the big picture at the moment. We've just got to look at game by game."

Coming off a 78-53 win over Loyola Marymount on Thursday, Saint Mary's put this one away early, jumping out to a 28-3 start.

"We played really well tonight," Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said. "Shot it well and anytime you can shoot it that well, you should play pretty well. We were able to separate early. I thought this was as well as we've played all year."

Hughes hit three 3-pointers in the first seven minutes and finished 4-of-11 from the arc. He also tied a career-high with eight assists.

"I was just taking the right shots," Hughes said. "You always do just fine when you do that. I was just trying to concentrate on taking good shoots tonight and they were falling."

The Gaels went on to lead, 42-21, at the break after shooting 52 percent (16-of-31) in the opening 20 minutes, including 7-of-15 on 3-pointers.

Overall, Saint Mary's finished 51 percent (33-of-65) and 15-of-31 from the arc in posting the 50-point win - the school's largest victory over a West Coast Conference opponent.

"It's a tricky deal," Bennett said. "They had a bad night and we had a great night. I've been on the other side of those. They have good young players. They're starting four freshman and sophomores. They're going through some growing pains. They happened to catch us on our best night of the year. So that's tough."

Simpson finished 7-of-9 from the field, grabbed six rebounds and recorded four of the Gaels' 11 blocked shots.

Keion Bell scored 20 points for the Waves (4-15, 1-2), who dropped to 0-2 against ranked teams this season, losing by a combined 71 points.

Although it has rolled in its last two games, Saint Mary's has a tough stretch coming up with consecutive road games at San Diego, Gonzaga and Portland State.

"You have to take care of business, I know that," Bennett said. "You lose these games and it hurts. We did what we're supposed to do.

"I agree with (the fact that these teams weren't as good as what we're gonna come up against next weekend) and so the next one we'll play will be a tough game. San Diego at San Diego. They're playing well. So it'll be a tough game. And then the next two after that are gonna be on the road. But, whatever. That's the way the schedule follows. You gotta play it out. I think our guys have done a good job handling every situation so far, so hopefully we'll handle this next stretch the same way."

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    PEPPERDINE 21 25 46
    SAINT MARYS CA (25) 42 54 96 FINAL

    Jan 17 9:56 PM


    Jan 17 8:52 PM
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    Pepperdine 9, St. Mary's(25) 28  1st - 7:00Jan 17 8:38 PM