The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Saint Mary’s backcourt duo dominant in First Four win proving the Gaels belong

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(USA Today Sports Images)

There isn't a coach in the nation who wouldn't want to have Matthew Dellavedova on his team right now heading into the Round of 64 later this week.

Dellavedova and his back court partner Stephen Holt completely dominated their game against Middle Tennessee in the First Four in Dayton tonight, controlling the pace of play, hitting shots from the perimeter and finding open teammates in the Gaels' 67-54 win.

They combined for 40 points, 12 rebounds and five assists and never allowed the Blue Raiders to get them rattled or playing a style in which they weren't comfortable. It was a tough, gritty performance and a frustrating one for Middle Tennessee.

The Gaels are playing in their second straight NCAA tournament with four starters having been here last year. That experience made an obvious difference against a Middle Tennessee team playing in the Big Dance for the first time in the lifetime of any of its players.

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The Blue Raiders kept it close throughout, but this was never really i doubt and it was because the leadership provided by Dellavedova, who might be as close as it gets to having a coach on the court anywhere in the nation this season.

If Dellavedova and Holt continue to play as patient and confident Thursday against Memphis as they did tonight, they could surprise the Tigers, whose resume has to be the weakest of all the No. 6 seeds after playing in Conference USA all season.

Some had similar questions about Saint Mary's and whether it was deserving of an at-large bid to the tournament. Dellavedova and Holt proved the selection committee was right to include them.

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