Harvard (7-4) at Saint Mary's-CA (10-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, December 31, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: McKeon Pavilion (3,500) -- Moraga, California. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: Harvard 5-1, SMC 0-0. Away Record: Harvard 2-3, SMC 0-0. Neutral Record: Harvard 0-0, SMC 0-0. Conference Record: Harvard 0-0, SMC 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Harvard Crimson will attempt to close out a perfect two-game West Coast swing on Monday evening, as they take on the Saint Mary's-CA Gaels at McKeon Pavilion.
Harvard's season got off to a lackluster 2-3 start, but since the beginning of December it has been on fire, winning five of its last six games. The Crimson extended their winning streak to three games on Saturday by logging an impressive 67-62 win at California, a contest in which they trailed only once, 2-0, in the opening minutes.
Saint Mary's dropped back-to-back games at the end of November to Pacific (76-66) and Georgia Tech (65-56) to fall to 3-2, but since then it has caught fire with wins in seven of its last eight games. The Gaels faced another Ivy League foe on Sunday night, taking care of business at home against Yale, 78-62.
This bout marks the inaugural meeting between these two programs on the hardwood.
The Crimson were actually outshot by Cal in their latest game, 47.2 percent to 36.7 percent, but they managed to drain 10 3-pointers to Cal's zero and made 13-of-14 from the free throw line to hold on for the five-point victory. Laurent Rivard was the catalyst in the triumph, as he drained 5-of-12 from the field, all from beyond the arc, on his way to 19 points. Wesley Saunders was also impressive with 18 points, and Siyani Chambers handed out seven assists and turned the ball over only twice. On the season, Harvard is scoring nearly five points per game more than its opponents by connecting on 6.6 treys per outing and making 74.3 percent of nearly 22 free throw attempts per game. Saunders has been one of the Ivy League's best players thus far, scoring 16.0 ppg while adding 4.5 rpg and 3.2 apg. Chambers (12.2 ppg, 5.5 apg) and Rivard (10.6 ppg) round out an impressive trio of guards for the Crimson.
The Gaels never trailed in their contest with Yale, shooting a lofty 51.6 percent from the floor and scoring more than 70 points for the eighth straight game. Matthew Dellavedova proved why he's one of the nation's premiere guards in the triumph, shooting 9-of-13 from the field, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range, on his way to 24 points, adding six assists for good measure. Brad Waldow, Jorden Page and Beau Levesque did their part by contributing 10 points apiece. On the season, Saint Mary's puts up more than 80 ppg and ranks sixth in the nation by connecting on 51 percent of its field goal attempts. Dellavedova tallies 18.5 ppg and 6.4 apg (15th in the nation) while logging outstanding percentages from the field (.497), 3-point range (.435), and the foul line (.914). Waldow, Levesque, James Walker III and Stephen Holt are all nice role players, as each averages between 9.8 and 11.3 ppg, and 4.2 and 5.8 rpg. The Gaels have lived by the 3-pointer, draining nearly nine per contest at a 41 percent clip.
Harvard has played very well of late, and making a cross-country trip to win at California was an outstanding achievement. But making a quick turnaround to face a hot-shooting Gaels team doesn't bode well for the Crimson.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saint Mary's-CA 75, Harvard 65
12/31 10:31:34 ET