DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Matthew Dellavedova scored 22 points on Tuesday night, and Saint 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) get a quick trip to Auburn Hills, Mich., to play sixth-seeded Memphis on Thursday.
Saint 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.
In the opening game, substitute guard Jeremy Underwood tripled his average with 19 points and North Carolina A&T survived a last-second scare for a 73-72 win over Liberty, which ended the season with 21 losses.
The Aggies (20-16) will play overall No. 1 seed Louisville in Lexington, Ky., on Thursday night after getting their first NCAA tournament win after nine losses. Of course, a 16th seed has never beaten a No. 1.