Saint Mary’s has just defeated Portland by a score of 69-55 to reach the conference tournament finals for the second straight season. The Gaels were once again led by star center Omar Samhan who finished with 16 points and 13 points. Samhan’s point total was matched by two other Gaels in a great show of balance as both Mickey McConnell and Matt Dellavedova scored 16 apiece as well. Where as Gonzaga’s win over LMU was tighter than it appeared, this one could be classified as a rout.
The Pilots finish what has to go down as a relatively disappointing WCC season. They struggled with injuries and just could not live up to the early season hype which landed them a spot in the rankings as many thought they would be the ones to knock Gonzaga off the top of the conference.
As for Saint Mary’s, they continue to impress the country in games not against Gonzaga and tomorrow night’s championship game is of enormous importance to the Gaels. That win over Portland did little for their resume except to boos their confidence. They need to beat the Zags tomorrow night to get off that dreaded “bubble” they’ve been sitting on for the past few years. Randy Bennett will have to find a way to get one of the members of Saint Mary’s supporting cast to have a big night. In previous games against Gonzaga, their guards have struggled mightily to get off open shots and take the pressure off Samhan. Dellavedova was able to get off for a bit in the first half of the initial match up but point guard Mickey McConnell has been quiet in both affairs.
As an interesting sidenote, both Omar Samhan and Gonzaga’s Steven Gray were injured in their respective games. Omar rolled his ankle early on in the affair and Gray came down hard on his elbow and then jammed his fingers on the backboard against LMU. Samhan appears to be fine but Gray was heavily favoring that elbow after the game so it will be interesting to see how a night of rest affects those two injuries.