The storyline you'll always hear when the Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers and Wagner Seahawks meet is the age of their head coaches. Former Drexel star Bashir Mason is the nation's youngest head coach at 29 years old and has his Seahawks at 2-0 in NEC play, while Jamion Christian is 31 years of age and has the Mount at 1-1 in conference play.
Wagner has been on quite the roll winning their last three games and by an average margin of margin of almost 17 points. Dwaun Anderson even made raised some eyebrows last week with an alley oop for the ages in the Seahawks 84-70 win over Long Island over the weekend.
Mount St. Mary's is just striving for some consistency after a 5-10 start to the season following a brutal out-of-conference slate and a 1-1 start in NEC play after beating St. Francis (NY) and losing at Fairleigh Dickinson.
"Mount Mayhem" has taken a step back from last year's team, who made it to the NEC Championship game, due to an exodus of transfers, including NEC Freshman of the Year Shivaughn Wiggins who bolted for Coastal Carolina. A trio of seniors, lead by Julian Norfleet (20.2 ppg), have bolstered the Mountaineers but the team is not nearly as deep as Jamion Christian would like to play in his "Mayhem" system, which is modeled after Shaka Smart's "HAVOC" where Christian was an assistant.
Wagner started the game how they wanted with a 7-1 advantage, but Mason was forced to burn a timeout with a 11:30 left after a 14-0 run by the Mountaineers. It wouldn't take long for the Seahawks to get a spark though, as Latif Rivers nailed a three and added a free throw (#SUPERHOOP) just eight seconds after Mason's timeout. Mario Moody would follow up the 4 point play with an emphatic dunk to cut the Mount's lead to 15-13.
Dwaun Anderson, a Michigan State transfer would eventually nail a three with just over 6:30 left to bring the Seahawks all the way back to 22-21 lead. Anderson would finish the first half with 10 points
To give you a sense of how Wagner got most of their first half points:
Wagner has 4 fantastic dunks (2 Anderson, 2 Moody) in 14 minutes of play. Their dunk to minute ratio is 0.29. That's splendid!— Ryan Peters (@pioneer_pride) January 17, 2014
Takeaway from seeing Wagner twice: Here's hoping Mario Moody gets an invite to the dunk contest at the Final Four in '15. He might win it.— Patrick Stevens (@D1scourse) January 17, 2014
Dunk contest in the Wagner vs Mount game right now— Conor McKiernan (@cmckiernan3) January 17, 2014
Despite Wagner's best #DunkCity impression, the Seahawks would implode in the last minute of the half. Will Miller would nail a three with 42 seconds left and the Julian Norfleet would steal the ball for Mario Moody and lay in another hoop. Then the run would continue with another Norfleet steal and a Rashad Whack three pointer to give the Mount a 37-35 halftime advantage. All in all it was an 11-2 run by the Mountaineers.
Norfleet and Whack would continue to stay hot early in the second half and "Mount Mayhem" would be unleashed as the Mountaineers would expand their lead to 18 points with a 24-9 run capped with a Whack three-pointer with 12:31 left. It was during this run that you could really sense the absence of Wagner big man Naofall Folahan, who is the Seahawk chief rim protector but out for tonight's game.
Wagner was a team that you thought would have a solid run in them and bring the game back to a pretty interesting contest, but Mason's squad just didn't have it in the second half.
The 89-80 win for the Mountaineer would boost Jamion to a 15-4 record at home in his two years as the head coach at the Mount. Norfleet would finish the game with 28 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists, while Whack had 27 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals. Mount St. Mary's will now look to build momentum as they host Robert Morris on Saturday.
Wagner had double-figure nights from Mario Moody (17 points), Latif Rivers (18), Dwaun Anderson (12), and Marcus Burton (13). The Seahawks will look to regroup with a visit to St. Francis (PA) on Saturday.