Let’s face it. The lower seeded teams in the NCAA Basketball Tournament bracket are not supposed to beat the higher seeded teams. But that’s what makes March Madness so exciting — the upsets. And on Saturday, Day One of Round Two of the 2010 NCAA Tournament bracket, seven teams that weren’t supposed to be there (that is, advanced to the second round) stepped onto the various courts to hopefully prolong their claims to a cinderella story. St. Mary’s was one of those teams.
St. Mary’s, a small school in Moraga, California, made it to the second round by defeating the Richmond Spiders in the first round of the 2010 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. It was little St. Mary’s first NCAA Tournament victory in 51 years. But they didn’t let the multitude of years or the difference in seeding intimidate them. They beat Richmond by nine points and moved into the next bracket.
Villanova slid into the secnd round bracket via some poor officiating at game’s end against Robert Morris that kept them from being the highest seeded team knocked off in the first round. But they brought the same level of lackluster play with them into the second round.
And St. Mary’s took advantage of it.
St. Mary’s simply dominated the first half of their contest with Villanova. By halftime, they led by nine points.
But Villanova showed a little of the playing skill that got them invited to the 2010 NCAA Tournament (despite a season ending slump) in the second half, working their way back into the game and tying it at 59 with minutes to go.
But the St. Mary’s Gaels weren’t to be denied their cinderella story. No midnight-striking, pumpkin-turning disappointment for them. A couple of three pointers and some free throws inside the three minute mark and St. Mary’s had a commanding lead, winning going away, 75-68.
Won on the back of Omar Samhan’s 32 points and 7 rebounds, St. Mary’s continued their winning ways that extended from their conference championship win over Gonzaga (who play Syracuse Sunday for a chance to advance in the ). After the game, Samhan cheered, “No. 1 Best Win Ever. Quote it.”
And quoted it is. Until Friday, when the St. Mary’s Gaels play the #3 Baylor Bears in the third round of the 2010 NCAA Basketball Tournament, otherwise known as the Sweet 16.
Cinderella has entered the “Big Dance” and is looking for that elusive slipper…
“St. Mary’s vs. Villanova,” CBS Television
“St. Mary’s Takes Care Of a Slumping ‘Nova,” CBSSports.com