MORAGA -- Saint Mary's College remains the king of late night basketball.

The Gaels improved to 5-0 when they play in ESPN's College Tipoff Marathon after beating Akron 85-63 at McKeon Pavilion in a game that ended in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.

Starting guards Jordan Giusti and James Walker III both set career highs in the midnight tipoff, which was part of 29 straight hours of round-the-clock hoops programming on ESPN networks.

The two mid-major powers were neck-and-neck until the Zips (1-1) faded down the stretch. The Gaels (2-0) led just 47-44 with about 13 minutes to play before using an 11-0 run to pull away.

Brad Waldow led four Gaels in double figures with 16 points.

Saint Mary’s Kerry Carter drives to the basket during the Gaels’ 85-63 early morning win over Akron in a game that started at midnight.
Saint Mary's Kerry Carter drives to the basket during the Gaels' 85-63 early morning win over Akron in a game that started at midnight. (Tod Fierner / Saint Mary's College Athletics)

Giusti, a sophomore known for his defense, scored 12 points to set a new career high. Walker's 15 points were the most of his two-year career.

Stephen Holt added 14 points, including a 12-of-12 effort from the free throw line.

Akron, which got 17 points and 12 rebounds from Demetrius Treadwell, had the rebounding edge 39-25, but Saint Mary's took better care of the ball, committing 10 turnovers to the Zips' 19.

The Gaels were also good at the line, hitting on 32 of 36 attempts.

It was the second time in less than a week that Saint Mary's beat a team picked to win its conference. The Gaels opened their season with an 83-70 win over Conference USA favorite Louisiana Tech.



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