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Saint Mary’s holds back Eastern Washington

MORAGA, Calif. — Matthew Dellavedova matched his career high with 25 points, Rob Jones had 19 points and 11 rebounds and Saint Mary’s beat Eastern Washington 77-61 on Tuesday night.

Clint Steindl added 12 points and seven rebounds for the Gaels (9-1), who have won seven straight.

Saint Mary’s led by 17 late in the second half but had to hold on after the Eagles — aided by a pair of technical fouls — cut the gap to single digits. The Gaels made a season-high 32 free throws, 13 in the final 3:10.

Collin Chiverton had 18 points for Eastern Washington (6-6) before fouling out with 1:30 remaining. Cliff Ederaine added 11 points and eight rebounds while Jeffrey Forbes had 10 points for the Eagles, who have lost four of six.

Dellavedova went into the game averaging 13 points and nearly doubled it against Eastern Washington, going 6 of 10 with four 3-pointers and six assists. The junior from Australia went over 1,000 points for his career.

Jones, the Gaels’ leading scorer, provided a lift with his eighth double-double of the season after being held to five points in back-to-back games against North Carolina A&T; and Bethune-Cookman. Jones missed seven of his 12 shots but was strong under the basket, reaching double digits in rebounds for the ninth time this year.

The Eagles couldn’t keep up in their final tuneup before playing at Montana State in the Big Sky opener on Dec. 28. They shot just 39.6 percent, committed 10 turnovers in the first half and had their top two leading scorers foul out.

Despite all that, Eastern Washington was within 64-55 following a layup by Tremayne Johnson with 3:14 remaining.

Dellavedova, who earlier made consecutive 3-pointers to give his team a 17-point lead, then led the parade to the free-throw line by the Gaels. Saint Mary’s sealed it by going 13 of 16 from the stripe down the stretch.

The Gaels won’t get much time to rest. They play sixth-ranked Baylor on Thursday in the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic, then close out the eight-team tournament against Missouri State on Friday.

Jones struggled with his shot most of the night but made up for it by dominating on the boards and getting to the free-throw line. He went 6 of 8 from the stripe and scored 14 points with six rebounds before halftime.

Saint Mary’s used a 13-2 run to pull away and had five 3-pointers before the break, including Dellavedova’s second of the half that gave the Gaels a 40-25 lead.

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