Saint Mary’s cruises past Pepperdine, 96-46
MORAGA, Calif. (AP)—Diamon Simpson scored a season-high 24 points and Saint Mary’s ran its winning streak to a school-record 14 games with a 96-46 victory over Pepperdine on Saturday.
The Gaels own the second-longest winning streak in NCAA Division I men’s basketball behind Wake Forest’s 16 victories. Saint Mary’s previous school-record of 13 consecutive wins was set during the 1958-59 season. The Gaels 17-1 record (4-0 in West Coast Conference) is the best start in school history.
Simpson made seven of his nine shots from the field and was 10-of-11 on free throws as the Gaels’ 50-point win tied for the eighth-largest margin of victory in school history. Carlin Hughes scored a season-high 16 points and eight assists with no turnovers. Patrick Mills added 13 points, a career-high nine assists and four steals.
Keion Bell scored 20 points to lead Pepperdine (4-15, 1-2). Mychel Thompson added 11 points.
Saint Mary’s 10th win in its past 11 meetings against Pepperdine was never in doubt. The Gaels return four starters of their NCAA Tournament team from a year ago, while Pepperdine starts four freshmen and a sophomore.
Hughes hit three 3-pointers in the first seven minutes as Saint Mary’s raced to a 28-3 lead over the Waves. Pepperdine made one of its first 10 shots from the floor. The Waves responded with 12 unanswered points to pull within 13 points with five minutes remaining in the first half.
But Clint Steindl ignited another Saint Mary’s burst with six points during an 11-2 run to bump the Gaels lead back to 22 points. Saint Mary’s led 42-21 at halftime.
Simpson scored 12 of the Gaels’ first 14 points of the second half. Saint Mary’s biggest lead of the game was 54 points with 1:42 remaining in the game.
The Gaels, who improved to 8-0 at home, will now hit the road for their biggest WCC challenges. On Thursday, Saint Mary’s travels to San Diego, where it lost two games last season. Then, the Gaels face Gonzaga in a Jan. 29 showdown.