2014 NCAA Tournament Game Recap: Albany Defeats Mount St. Mary's in 'First Four'

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Great Danes (19-14, 9-7) advanced to play the Florida Gators (32-2, 18-0) in the round of 64 by beating the Mountaineers (16-17, 9-7), 71 - 64 in Dayton, Ohio earlier tonight.

To say that this was a game of runs would be an understatement.  Albany opened the game on a 21-2 run that lasted until the 11:20 mark when freshman forward Will Miller connected from beyond the arc for the Mount.  MSM opened the game missing their first 11 attempts, six of which were three-pointers.

The Great Danes took advantage of the poor shooting by Mount St. Mary's: senior guard DJ Evans accounted for nine of his team's first 21 points, including swiping Mountaineers' senior guard Julian Norfleet and taking it the rest of the way for an easy layup.

Still, despite the extremely slow start, Mount head coach Jamion Christian never faltered.  After the game he said, "I knew if we got one to go down, we would be able to turn it around."  He was right.

The Miller triple was the start of a 21-2 run by MSM, capped-off by a three-pointer by senior guard Sam Prescott at the 5:28 mark.  Both teams were still tied with just 44 seconds remaining in the half, until another steal by Evans led to an assisted layup by redshirt sophomore guard Peter Hooley.  Evans added another bucket just before the half, and Albany took a 35 - 31 advantage into the locker room.

The fourth triple by Miller helped give Mount St. Mary's a 42 - 39 lead going into the first media timeout of the second half.  Evans scored five straight points in the span of 40 seconds shortly after, and the Great Danes regained the lead.  Back-to-back makes from long distance by Miller brought the Mountaineers within one-point of Albany, 63 - 62, with only 3:38 remaining.

However, the Mount never got closer than that.  The trio of Evans, Hooley, and junior forward Sam Rowley scored eight points down the stretch for the Great Danes, and they won, 71 - 64.

Miller led MSM with 21 points on 7-12 from beyond the arc; he also added three rebounds and two assists.  The senior guard trio of Norfleet, Prescott, and Rashad Whack combined for 37 points, but on a collective 13-44 (29.5 percent) shooting.

Albany was led by the game-high 22 points of Evans on 8-13 from the field; he pulled down nine rebounds as well.  Hooley contributed 20 points on 7-14 shooting.  Both players were relentless going to the basket and capitalized on their looks around the basket.  Rowley had a game-high 13 rebounds to go along with his eight points.

Mount St. Mary's was able to stay in the game thanks to their 12 triples compared to the Great Dane's two.  They also only turned the ball over four times compared to Albany's 14.  However, despite the Mountaineers ability to increase the tempo of the game on occasion, there were only a total of 128 possessions in the game (per Ryan Peters), a pace that favored the Great Danes.

It was a great season for the Mount, and they represented the NEC well.  However, the Great Danes of Albany, New York were the better team on Tuesday night, and they now have a trip to Orlando, FL to take on the top-overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, the Florida Gators.

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