Moraga, CA – The Saint Mary’s men’s basketball team said their goodbye’s to a pair out outstanding senior athletes Saturday evening at McKeon Pavilion, as Omar Samhan and Ben Allen played their final game in front of the home crowd. The pair did not disappoint as they combined for 45 points and 19 rebounds to lead the Gaels to an 88-80 win over visiting Loyola Marymount.
Samhan was particularly dominant, as he tied his career-high with 33 points, on 14-of-22 shooting. In doing so, Samhan now has 623 points on the season, breaking Eric Schraeder’s single season record of 614 set in 1998-99 season. He also moved past David Vann (1978-82) for second all-time with 1,745 career points. Samhan added with eight rebounds and three blocked shots, improving school record to 243 blocks.
“It just felt good to do it in front of family and friends,” said senior Omar Samhan of breaking the single season scoring record. “It wasn’t any more important. They’re a better team and on senior night you just don’t want to have a bad game. There’s a lot of pressure you put on yourself.”
Allen finished the evening with his fifth career double-double, recording 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Freshman Matthew Dellavedova heated up, to a tune of 20 points, shooting 4-for-10 from the field and 3-of-6 from behind the arc, while going 5-of-8 from the charity stripe. Dellavedova also recorded three rebounds, two assists and three steals.
“Those two seniors played well,” said head coach Randy Bennett. “I told our guys before this isn’t a farewell party. You’re in for a game, you’re going to be in a battle. They’ll put you in some mismatch problems, especially for us, because we play big and they are out there sometimes with four guards. And Loyola played well”
Samhan kicked off his big night scoring the first bucket of the game, he went on to score 10 points before the first media timeout, putting the Gaels out front 14-7 with 15:58 to play in the first half. Saint Mary’s (24-5/11-3 WCC) pushed their lead to 10, 19-9 on a layup from Allen. LMU (16-14/7-7 WCC) closed the gap, going on a 13-0 run to take the lead 31-28 with 5:05 to play at the half.
With 1:04 to play in the half, with the Lions up four, tempers flared, a double foul was called on Allen and LMU’s Ashley Hamilton, Hamilton was then awarded a technical foul, which proved to be costly, as Dellavedova hit a pair of free throws and Samhan tied the game up with a layup. LMU’s Vernon Teel scored a bucket just before half, putting LMU out front 43-41.
In the second half the combination of Samhan’s physical presence in the paint and Mickey McConnell and Dellavedova running the point proved to be too much for LMU. McConnell got hot, scoring 11 of his 14 points after the intermission. With 16:19 on the clock a McConnell layup put SMC ahead 55-53, from there the Gaels didn’t look back, getting steady scoring from Allen, Samhan, McConnell and Dellavedova. Saint Mary’s shot an impressive 59 percent from the field in the second half, including 66.7 percent from three-point range. With 1:45 to play in the game Jorden Page hit a layup to put Saint Mary’s up 13, 86-73, the Gaels held on to the lead, winning by a final score of 88-80.
Saint Mary’s returns to action on Sunday, March 7 in the second game of the Semifinal Round of the 2010 Zappos.com West Coast Conference Championships from the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, NV. The Gaels will play either 6-seed San Diego, 7-seed Santa Clara or 3-seed Portland to open the tournament. The game is scheduled to begin around 9 p.m., or will followed 30 minutes the first semifinal game, which is slated for a 6:30 PM tip.