March 21, 2008
Little Rock, AR - The No. 10 seeded Saint Mary's men's basketball team's 2008 NCAA tournament's visit to Arkansas began and ended with a 78-64 loss to the No. 7 seeded Miami Hurricanes on Friday afternoon from the Alltel Arena.
Miami's Jack McClinton scored a career-high 38 points - 32 during the second half - with helped the Hurricanes overcome a 32-27 Saint Mary's lead at halftime.
With the Hurricanes trailed by five at the break, McClinton asserted himself immediately in the second half. Just before halftime, he drove easily toward the basket a couple times. That, apparently, was just a warning.
Miami (23-10) went on a 25-5 run shortly after intermission, as McClinton scored 10 straight points for the Hurricanes early in that stretch. Later, after the Gaels (25-7) pulled within eight at 64-56, McClinton calmly sank an open 3-pointer from the left corner.
The win gives Hurricanes coach Frank Haith a potential second-round matchup with second-seeded Texas, where Haith was an assistant under Rick Barnes for three seasons before taking over at Miami.
The Hurricanes quickly fell behind 9-2 early in the first half. They turned the ball over six times before the second official timeout - one errant pass sailed right into the arms of Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett. Miami was 1-of-9 from the field before James Dews scored an easy basket off an inbound pass.
The Gaels had their own problems with turnovers, but they pushed their lead back to seven near the end of the half and appeared comfortable after a long trip from California.
Patrick Mills was 6-for-14 from 3-point land in the game, and finished with 24 points, but it was not enough as we was the only player for the Gaels to score in double figures. Mills made three shots from long distance in the first half.
Both Todd Golden and Omar Samhan finished the game with eight points each, and Diamon Simpson chipped in with seven points and a game-high 12 rebounds for his 17th double-digit rebound game of the season.
Miami, which was predicted to be the Atlantic Coast Conference's worst team this season, has now won 8 of 11, part of a remarkable turnaround after a 12-20 record a season ago.
Saint Mary's joined WCC tournament winner San Diego and regular-season champion Gonzaga in the tournament, the first time the conference has placed three teams in the NCAAs.
Saint Mary's has won only one NCAA tournament game. In 1959, the team had a first-round bye in a field of 23 teams. After beating Idaho State, the Gaels were a win from the Final Four, but they lost to eventual national champion California.