DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Matthew Dellavedova scored 22 points on Tuesday night, and St. Mary’s got a good start on its second straight NCAA tournament appearance, beating Middle Tennessee, 67-54, in the First Four.
The Gaels (28-6) make a quick trip to Auburn Hills, Mich., to play sixth-seeded Memphis on Thursday.
St. Mary’s is making back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances for the first time in its history. The Gaels reached the round of 16 in 2010 before losing to Baylor. Not so good last year, when they dropped their opening game to Purdue, 72-69.
With four starters back and Dellavedova, the school’s career scoring leader, handling the ball and making the biggest shots, the Gaels were too much for Middle Tennessee (28-6), which was making its first NCAA tournament appearance in 24 years.
North Carolina A&T bounces Liberty
DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Jeremy Underwood came off the bench to score 19 points, leading North Carolina A&T past Liberty, 73-72, on Tuesday at the First Four, ending an NCAA winless streak at nine games.
The Flames — only the second team ever to make the NCAA tournament with 20 losses — had a chance to win it. John Caleb Sanders drove coast to coast and flipped up a left-handed layup in heavy congestion that just missed. A&T (20-16) rebounded and, while Sanders rolled in pain on the baseline, began to celebrate an end to more than 30 years of disappointment.
Underwood came in averaging just over six points, but was perfect from the field, hitting six field goals in as many attempts. Bruce Beckford added 16 points and Lamont Middleton 14.