SANTA CLARA -- Santa Clara focused on shutting down Saint Mary's star Matthew Dellavedova. That plan may have worked, but the Gaels' Beau Levesque scored a career-high 24 points to help Saint Mary's earn an 84-63 win on Thursday.
The win, before a Leavey Center crowd of 3,303, clinched the sixth straight 20-win season for the Gaels (20-4, 9-1 West Coast Conference). It was Saint Mary's eighth straight victory over the Broncos (17-8, 5-5), its longest winning streak in a series that's more than 100 years old.
"Overall, one of our best games of the year," Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said.
Dellavedova matched a season-low with four points and also finished with six turnovers. But he had nine assists, and his defense and distribution skills were still keys to the victory.
His most valuable tool was absorbing the focus of the Santa Clara defense.
"A lot of defenses are going to focus a lot of their attention on Delly, so luckily they just kept leaving me open and I was able to make shots tonight," Levesque said.
Levesque came off the bench to make a career-high six 3-pointers. He made his first four attempts and was 6 of 7 from beyond the arc.
"I think like anybody, you make a couple and the basket seems a little bigger," Bennett said.
Santa Clara coach Kerry Keating said his team followed the game plan defensively but the Broncos' offensive struggles negated it.
"You've got to choose who you take away, and we made a decision on that," Keating said. "It was fine, but we weren't putting the ball in the basket."
Santa Clara missed its first six shots to drop it into an early hole. Saint Mary's had a 20 percent advantage in shooting percentage (58 percent to 38) in the first half. With that being the case, the Broncos had to feel fortunate to be down by only seven points at halftime.
Levesque had 15 in the first half, and his touch was working so well that when a wide-open look from the right corner hit the front of the rim, it bounced straight up and right into the cylinder. That shot gave the Gaels their biggest lead of the half at 31-16.
"It's always nice for those to go in," Levesque said. "I knew my shot felt good tonight coming in."
Santa Clara went on a mini-run in the last four minutes of the first half, outscoring Saint Mary's 12-4. Raymond Cowels III hit two 3s and Evan Roquemore scored the other six points in the run that made it 41-34 at halftime.
The Broncos couldn't find a second-half surge, though. When Levesque converted a three-point play with 12:11 to play, Saint Mary's held its largest lead to that point at 60-43.
Santa Clara found a little energy and scored six straight, but Saint Mary's answered with an 8-0 run that put the game away.
Roquemore led the Broncos with 18 points. Cowels scored 14, Marc Trasolini had 13, and Kevin Foster added 10. Santa Clara made only 3 of 14 from three-point range.
Brad Waldow had 14 points and eight rebounds for the Gaels. Mitchell Young chipped in 12 points and nine rebounds.
Follow Jimmy Durkin at Twitter.com/Jimmy_Durkin.