BOISE, Idaho -- Saint Mary's passed its stiffest test of the season and the reward is remaining one of the nation's 14 unbeaten Division I teams.
Stephen Holt scored a season-high 24 points to lead the Gaels (8-0) to a hard-fought 82-74 victory over Boise State Saturday. The victory allows Saint Mary's to match the second-best season-opening winning streak in program history.
Derrick Marks led Boise State with 22 points and Jeff Elorriaga added 20, making all six of the Broncos' 3-pointers. Ryan Watkins added 14 points for Boise State (8-2), which lost its second consecutive game.
Saint Mary's used a 7-0 run capped by Carter's 3-pointer to take a 70-61 lead with 6:51 left in the game. Boise State tallied the next eight before Anthony Drmic missed a tying free-throw with 1:46 remaining. Levesque then connected on a 3-pointer with 1:21 left and the Gaels protected the lead by hitting nine of 10 free throws.
Saint Mary's had feasted on a light slate prior to facing the Broncos, who had won 26 consecutive nonconference home games prior to Saturday's loss. The Gaels went 12-of-23 from 3-point range and put the clamps on Drmic, holding Boise State's leading scorer to a season-worst six points on 2-of-6 shooting.
The Broncos won their first eight games of the season before losing at Kentucky on Tuesday and they quickly dug themselves a hole against the Gaels, who made 14 of 20 shots over the first 14-plus minutes.
Saint Mary's was 6 of 7 from 3-point range over the first nine-plus minutes to take a 29-16 lead. The advantage topped out at 36-20 after two free throws by Carter with 8:19 to play.
Elorriaga hit three 3-pointers during an 18-5 run to help the Broncos move within three points with 2:28 left.
The Gaels led 46-44 at the break. Boise State took its first lead of the game on Igor Hadziomerovic's layup 71 seconds into the second half.
A dunk by Watkins gave Boise State a 50-48 lead with just over 18 minutes remaining before Saint Mary's scored 10 straight points and 14 of the next 16 to take a 10-point lead with 11:52 left.
The Broncos battled back within 63-61 on two free throws by Marks with 8:39 left before Holt and Walker drove for baskets and Carter drained a 3-pointer to boost the lead back to nine with 6:51 remaining.