Saint Mary's forward Brad Waldow's reward for the best performance of his college career was a trip to the dentist.
What Waldow lacked in etiquette he made up for in toughness and grit.
Though Waldow's injury was severe enough to require postgame surgery to repair, the sophomore still returned to the game as soon as his mouth stopped bleeding. He finished with a career high 23 points to go with 16 rebounds and blocked four shots, helping Saint Mary's stave off the upset bid from San Diego.
It was Waldow's contributions that kept the Gaels close enough for star point guard Matthew Dellavedova to force overtime with a left corner 3-pointer with nine seconds left in regulation. The Gaels, who trailed San Diego by as many as 12, came up with a stop on the Toreros' final possession and played a strong overtime to force a fifth straight WCC title game against rival Gonzaga.
Even though most mock brackets projected Saint Mary's in the field of 68 as of Saturday, the margin for error was thin enough that a loss to San Diego would have made for a long, eight-day wait until Selection Sunday. The Gaels' 27-5 record is very impressive, but their strength of schedule is woeful and their list of RPI Top 50 wins only includes Creighton.
Saint Mary's now has two days to fix Waldow's front tooth and prepare for the season's third matchup with top-ranked Gonzaga.
Win, and the Gaels earn the WCC's automatic bid for the second straight year. Lose, and they'll still have a nervous wait until Selection Sunday. It just won't be quite as anxious as it would have been with a loss on Saturday.
(Thanks for the video, Run the Floor)
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