March 20, 2010
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP)--Omar Samhan was an unstoppable Gael force and played the game of his career, finishing with 32 points and seven rebounds to lead 10th-seeded Saint Mary's past Villanova 75-68 on Saturday and improbably into the NCAA tournament's round of 16.
Samhan played the game of his career on basketball's biggest stage, finishing with 32 points and seven rebounds to lead 10th-seeded Saint Mary's past Villanova 75-68 on Saturday and on to Houston for the South Regional's Sweet 16.
Mickey McConnell stopped and fired an arcing 25-footer that banked high off the glass to give Saint Mary's a 68-65 lead with 1:15 left.
Samhan used a two-handed block to turn back Reggie Redding and McConnell made both ends of a 1-and-1 to make it 70-65.
The Wildcats (25-8) made an early exit a year after they played in the Final Four. They started 20-1.
Samhan played perhaps the best all-around game of anyone in the tournament so far. His 32 points where one shy of his career high and he made 13 of 16 shots.
He frustrated the Wildcats until late in the second half.
That's when the Wildcats started doing what they do best--run and score on the fastbreak. They rallied from a seven-point halftime deficit with their transition game to tie the score at 51 on Maalik Wayns' perfect pass through the defense to Antonio Pena for a layup. Pena made a free throw for the tie, and Corey Fisher followed with a basket the next time down for a 53-51 Villanova lead.
Neither team gave much the rest of the way.
Saint Mary's took a three-point lead when Reynolds nailed his first 3-pointer of the game.
Matthew Dellavedova made an acrobatic play as he dribbled, tripped, retained his dribble, spun around Fisher and hit a 3. Wayns--the Philly freshman seemingly built with a turbo-charged engine--sped to the basket for a layup and sliced it to 64-63 with 3:29 left.
The score was frozen until Clint Steindl made one of two free throws to make it 65-63. Wayns tied it on two free throws.
That's when McConnell fired one that was felt from America to Australia-- the Gaels boast four Aussies on their roster--and had the Gaels pointed toward the Sweet 16.