Saint Mary’s Shocks Villanova, Advances to Sweet-16

March 21st, 2010-  By Bryan Cross

Upsets were the storyline of the opening round in the 2010 NCAA tournament, and the theme continued on into the round of 32.  No.10 seed Saint Mary’s faced off against No.2 seed Villanova, and sent the Wildcats home early, winning 75-68 and advancing to the Sweet-16.

Omar Samhan led the way for the Gaels, with a game-high 32 points, en route to the upset, which was so surreal, even he didn’t believe what just happened.

“Did it really happen?” he exclaimed after the game. “We won? For real?”

Samhan and Saint Mary’s have officially been put on the map in college basketball.

“Number One. Best win ever. Quote it,” Samhan said in a post-game conference. “Omar Samhan said, ‘Best win ever.’ It was.”

Tied at 65-65 with 1:15 left in the game, Mickey McConnell launched a deep 3-pointer that went down to give the Gaels a three point edge, and forced Villanova into making a shot on their end of the court.

“I got a little separation so I had an open look,”  McConnell said. “So I just let it go and luckily the backboard was there.”

Villanova failed to convert on the other end of the floor, and were forced to foul.  McConnell then stepped up and knocked down both free throw attempts to take the lead to five.

With the win, the Gaels now move on to play Baylor in the round of 16.

“Nobody expected us to be in this situation when we started the year,” Saint Mary’s head coach Randy Bennett said. “Maybe the guys did, but I think even they would admit we were a little unsure.”

After reaching the Final Four a year ago, the Wildcats are sent home early following a sizzling 20-1 start to the season.  It’s the end that counts the most however, and Villanova crumbled.

Scottie Reynolds converted on only 2 of 11 shots from the field, following up his 2 of 15 performance in the opening round match up against Robert Morris.  It was a forgettable tournament for the Wildcat leader, after converting on a miracle basket last year in the Elite 8 over Pitt.

“There’s no shame in losing,” Reynolds said after the game. “We came up against a great opponent in a Saint Mary’s team who just had our number. We’re going to hold our heads up high.”

Villanova was a four-point favorite heading into the game according to USA Online Sportsbooks.  The over/under for the contest was set at 153 points, and with the games’ total reaching 143 points, it went the under.

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