St. Mary's Upsets Richmond in NCAA Tournament

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    St, Mary's will advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

    Maybe the luck of the Irish still works the day after St. Patrick's Day. The St. Mary's Gaels shamrocked No. 7 Richmond for an 80-71 win in the first round of this year's NCAA Tournament.

    President Barack Obama  totally called this one, you know!

    A tenth-seed beating a seventh-seed is not exactly a bracket-buster. But it's the Bay Area's first win in the Men's NCAA Tournament since 2004. And it's St. Mary's first win in the NCAA Men's Tournament since 1959. 

    The game started nearly an hour late, because No. 2 Villanova and No. 15 Robert Morris battled into overtime in the previous contest on that Dunkin' Donuts Center court. Such is this madness that we call March!

    But once the game was underway, it was quickly evident that Richmond had no answer for the low-post game of St. Mary's Omar Samhan.

    Samhan scored all of St. Mary's first 10 points, and he'd already scored those 10 points barely five minutes into the game. Samhan's first quarter heroics wiped out a 9-2 early Richmond lead. Samhan would score an NBA-like 29 points with 12 rebounds in the win.

    But the Gaels controlled the tempo of the game, even when Samhan sat for six minutes of the second half in foul trouble.

    That's because you've got another new hero, Gaels fans and people who just became Gaels fans. Point guard Mickey McConnell scored 23 points and was 5-9 on three-pointers. McConnell's threes seemed to come at the clutchest moments of an expiring shot clock.

    Now the Gaels advance to face the traditional tournament powerhouse Villanova Wildcats on Saturday, at a time yet to be determined. Villanova may be a traditional tournament powerhouse, but they didn't look like it in their first game. They got dragged into overtime, and very nearly suffered the first 2-seed upset since 2001.

    "Villanova isn't completely right," ESPN college basketball analyst Andy Katz said just after the game. 

    We hope you're completely right about that, Andy Katz.

    Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who considers it a minor miracle that neither Verne Lundquist nor Bill Raftery ever mispronounced the name of the township "Moraga".