By Simon Tryzna
SMCGaels.com Student Correspondant
LAS VEGAS -- On the road against BYU in Provo, Matthew Dellavedova hit a game winner from half court at the buzzer to give the Gaels a 70-69 win. The shot was infamously called the "Dellava-dagger."
Tonight at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Dellavedova hit the "Dellava-saver," a 3-point shot from the corner that tied the game at 60-all with six seconds remaining. The shot ultimately sent the game into overtime where the Gaels defeated the upset-minded San Diego 69-66.
"I had no doubt that [shot] was going in," said Jordan Guisti. "I don't know anyone (better than Dellavedova) who could take that shot."
After a quick Toreros basket to start overtime, Waldow tipped in a Mitchell Young miss to tie the game at 64 apiece. Moments later, Young converted on a fast break layup to give the Gaels a lead that they would never relinquish.
Redshirt freshman Jordan Guisti came up with a big block on a San Diego fast break that kept the lead at two. Mitchell Young converted a layup to give the Gaels a 68-64 lead and Saint Mary's would hang on from there. With the Gaels up three, Toreros sophomore phenom Johnny Dee missed a three to tie the game and send the game into a second overtime.
"They're good competitors," said head coach Randy Bennett of his team. "They're gritty. When we needed a bucket, they got us one. When we needed a stop, they got those too."
The sixth-seeded Toreros were fresh from upsetting third -seeded BYU and looked the better of the two teams early on, building a 20-6 lead. Dellavedova, despite shooting 1-5 from the half, combined with Guisti to slow the Toreros offense which allowed the Gaels to go on their 20-7 run before Chris Anderson hit a runner at the buzzer to give Toreros a 29-26 advantage at the half.
The early part of the second half was much of the same as both teams were trading baskets. Down 50-42 with eight minutes left in the game, the Gaels used a 9-0 run and took their first lead of the game when Dellavedova hit a second of two free throws and giving Saint Mary's a 51-50 edge with 8 minutes left.
But just as it looked like Saint Mary's was going to run away with it, the Toreros came storming back. Chris Manresa hit a big time basket to give San Diego a 54-53 lead and Dee followed it up with a big-time three over Matthew Dellavedova to extend to lead to four.
After Brad Waldow made two free throws to cut the deficit, Jordan Guisti came up with a big steal and was instantly fouled. He converted on his two free throws to tie the game at 57. Beau Levesque then hit a pair of his own free throws to give the Gaels a two point advantage.
Yet Ken Rancifer hit the three and the Gaels were suddenly down 60-59. They had a few shots to take the lead in the final 30 seconds, but ultimately had to foul San Diego's John Sinis, who made two free throws with 17 seconds remaining to give the Toreros a 62-59.
"We had to fight through and I was proud of our guys," said Bennett. "I thought we showed a lot of toughness and a lot of belief. We hung together."
The Gaels next take on #1 ranked Gonzaga, Monday night at the Orleans Area at 6 p.m. That game can be seen on ESPN.