Saint Mary’s looks to end drought at War Memorial Stadium

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Saints Marys Preview: As we begin to tip off conference play in the WCC, the Gaels will travel to the hilltop and face the USF Dons at War Memorial Stadium. Saint Mary’s hasn’t won a game at War Memorial stadium since Jordan Ford was a freshman, and will look to end that drought this coming Thursday.

The Dons are coming off an 84-81 loss to Harvard in overtime in a game they didn’t shoot well from three until the final 6 minutes of the game. The Gaels haven’t played since their 84-58 throttling of Seattle U on December 28, a game that also saw most of the Gaels team shoot poorly from deep. These two teams split the season series last year, and both are looking to start conference play off on a high note.

Scouting USF

USF is entering league play with an 11-4 non conference record, and if you ask anyone with USF I think they’d be pretty happy with that. While they’ve missed their opportunities for some quality wins (Arizona State, Stanford, Harvard) they have for the most part won the games they should have. After the loss to Harvard USF fell just outside the top 100 for NET, however that still makes this a possible Quad 2 win for Saint Mary’s, and a Quad 1 win for the Dons.

USF is a team that loves the three point shot, as they rank #21 in the nation taking 27.9 threes a game. They are shooting at a fairly impressive 36.4% clip from deep, good for 55th best in the nation. They will look to take a barrage of threes from a cast of players, all not afraid to contribute to the scoring.  USF is a very balanced scoring team, as no one player is averaging more than 15 PPG, and no one player is averaging more than 12 shots per game. Of that cast USF is lead by a pair of lightening quick junior guards in Jamaree Bouyea and Charles Minlend. Both are averaging  just shy of 15 ppg and pace this USF offense.  

Game Preview

Saints Marys Preview: Assuming both teams are hitting their shots I anticipate this to be a high scoring affair. USF will look to space the ball on offense, and use that spacing to create open driving lanes for easy buckets or a drive and kick out. USF has quick guards and can really breakdown a defender one on one, so this will be a good test for Saint Mary’s guards to show off their defensive prowess. On the defensive end, I anticipate USF will try to run Saint Mary’s off the three point line and force their guards to drive into their 7ft big man Jimbo Lull.

If USF isn’t able to run Saint Mary’s off the three point line, it will be a long night for the Dons. USF is allowing opponents to shoot 39.1% from three, good (or bad) for 339th in the nation. Saint Mary’s on the other hand still leads the nation in three point percentage at %42.7, and this is even after back to back poor three point shooting games by the Gaels.

A Different Look

Saints Marys Preview: The game plan for the Gaels will most likely look different than in games past. Without Tass in the lineup due to his ACL injury, Randy Bennett elected to go with Fotu at the center position last game against Seattle U. They were able to get away with this because Seattle isn’t a very big team. Considering Fotu stands at about 6’8″, he would be a considerable mismatch to Lull. Expect to see more Menzies/Perry in this game. Their size will help them matchup much better to USF, but will certainly give up speed and versatility at the 5 position. Saint Mary’s will also need to make their three point shot. If they have another off shooting night against the Dons, they could be in for their third straight year suffering a loss to the Dons.

Prediction

Saint Mary’s-79 USF-70

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