Aidan Mahaney enjoyed a solid freshman campaign and aims to deliver even more often in his second season with No. 23 Saint Mary’s.
The sharpshooting guard is off to a strong start, and he will seek another solid performance when the Gaels entertain Weber State on Sunday night in Moraga, Calif.
Mahaney matched his career highs of 25 points and five 3-pointers as Saint Mary’s (2-0) knocked off visiting New Mexico 72-58 Thursday night.
It marked the third time Mahaney has scored 25 points in his 37 appearances for the Gaels. He is averaging a team-best 20 points per game through two contests, an improvement over last season’s 13.9 average.
But Mahaney doesn’t feel like he has to be a one-man show.
“We’re really talented and we’re really deep,” Mahaney said after the win. “I feel like our continued growth is really important. I don’t think we’re anywhere close to how good we can be.”
The Gaels never trailed against the Lobos and led by as many as 22 points.
Saint Mary’s coach Randy Bennett felt the defense fueled the victory. The Gaels held New Mexico to 37.1 percent from the field.
“Our defense was why we won,” Bennett said. “We’re better than that offensively but we have to keep improving.”
Harry Wessels (12 points) was the only other member of the Gaels to score in double digits. Mason Forbes (12.5 points per game) and Wessels (11.5) join Mahaney as double-digit scorers through two games.
Saint Mary’s allows an average of 43 points per game and holds opponents to 26.7 percent from the field. The Gaels steamrolled Division II Stanislaus State 107-28 in their opener Monday.
Weber State (1-0) can hold its own against Saint Mary’s due to the presence of star forward Dillon Jones.
Jones began the season with 26 points and 14 rebounds as the Wildcats blasted NAIA program Benedictine Mesa 96-62 Tuesday in Ogden, Utah.
It was the 39th career double-double for Jones, who recorded 20 of them last season. He made 6 of 7 shots from the field — making his only 3-pointer — and knocked down all 13 of his free-throw attempts.
“Dillon’s effort was really good,” Weber State coach Eric Duft said after Tuesday’s win. “He’s just a guy that’s going to make the right play and some nights he might shoot seven shots and some nights 17, but he’s just going to continually make the right play and I thought his mindset was where it needed to be.”
Jones, who averaged 16.7 points and 10.9 rebounds last season, was the unanimous choice as Big Sky preseason MVP.
Steven Verplancken (16 points), Blaise Threatt (15) and Alex Tew (12) also scored in double digits in the opener.
Verplancken led the Wildcats with 65 3-pointers last season while also shooting a team-best 41.7 percent from behind the arc. He averaged 13.2 points last season.
Saint Mary’s has won all four previous meetings. In the most recent matchup, the Gaels scored an 87-70 home win Nov. 28, 2011.
–Field Level Media
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