St. Mary's Stuns Villanova to Crash the Sweet 16
Omar Samhan, the 6-foot-11 St. Mary's center, scored 32 points, and Mickey McConnell's banked-in 3-pointer with 1:15 left in the game broke a 65-65 tie and propelled the Gaels into next week's South Region semifinals in Houston. Villanova senior guard Scottie Reynolds endured another brutal shooting day and couldn't help the Wildcats make good on a spirited second-half comeback attempt.
As Reynolds struggled badly with his shooting and Samhan dominated inside, St. Mary's roared out to an early lead and was ahead 38-31 at halftime. But Villanova showed improved defensive energy and intensity in the second half, hassling the Gaels better in transition and in the half-court. They still couldn't come up with an answer for Samhan, but when St. Mary's couldn't get him the ball, the Wildcats did a better job of taking advantage and producing points on the other end.
Villanova finally tied the game at 58-58 with 10:07 left when Antonio Pena converted a three-point play with a basket and a free throw, and the game was tight the rest of the way.
Scottie Reynolds' shooting, which was as dreadful Saturday as it had been in Thursday's first-round game. Villanova's senior guard ended his brilliant college career with a game in which he shot 2-for-11 from the field. Even a poor shooting day by Reynolds' standards could have made the difference, but a horrible one doomed the Wildcats. In the 2010 NCAA Tournament, Reynolds was 4-for-26 from the field, including 2-for-10 from three-point range.
GAME BALL GOES TO
Omar Samhan. The 6-11 senior center picked up two first-half fouls, but St. Mary's coach Randy Bennett sent him back out onto the floor anyway, and Villanova just couldn't get him in further foul trouble. It cost them. Samhan was dominating inside, imposing his physical presence under the basket and even hitting a couple of short jumpers. Every time St. Mary's needed a bucket, Samhan seemed to deliver one.
HEART GOES OUT TO
Maalik Wayns. Villanova's perimeter defense was nonexistent in the first game against Robert Morris and for most of the first half Saturday. But once Wayns got into the flow, he totally transformed things, pressuring the ball the length of the court and making things difficult for the St. Mary's offense. Wayns did everything he could to will his cold-shooting teammates back into the game, and the Wildcats seemed to feed off him, showing increased intensity on defense during their second-half comeback.
St. Mary's will play the winner of Saturday's Baylor-Old Dominion matchup on Friday in Houston in a Sweet 16 game in the South Regional.