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NCAA Tournament scores 2017: Saint Mary’s stumbles late to Arizona, 69-60

Saint Mary’s won’t be our Cinderella.

St. Mary's v Arizona Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Saint Mary’s’ shot at the second weekend fell short, 69-60, against Arizona in Salt Lake City.

The 2 seed Arizona Wildcats struggled early against the 7 seed Gaels, but ultimately proved too much for Randy Bennett’s pack of Aussies. In the end the Gaels’ elite offense was slowed by the Arizona athletes, and Saint Mary’s didn’t have enough to match plays like this.

Despite the discrepancy in seeding and perceived talent, this proved to be a fun and close game.

Saint Mary’s, despite being five seed lines lower, was a one-point favorite in KenPom, thanks to their slow and deliberate offense. They controlled the tempo early and fed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award finalist Jock Landale (19 points, 11 rebounds). With 11:45 left in the first Landale had 10 points, Arizona had eight.

On two occasions in the first half the Gaels extended their lead to ten points. But they made just two three pointers in the half and shot 28.3 percent from distance for the game.

Arizona took its first lead on its first possession of the second half. And while the two teams traded blows for a while, and the Wildcats never really managed to take complete control, that was a sign of things to come.

In the second half the Wildcats hit 59.1% of their shots from the field.

Allonzo Trier (14 points) did not score until over three minutes into the second half. Similarly, Kadeem Allen scored 10 of his 12 points in the second half. The Wildcats’ stars took time to shine, but they came through when it counted.

Saint Mary’s season ends at 29-5. Arizona, now 32-4, advances to the Sweet 16 in San Jose where they will face 11-seed Xavier on Thursday.