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2014 NCAA Tournament Recap: Albany Defeats Mount St. Mary's in 'First Four', 71-64

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.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

To say that this was a game of runs would be an understatement.  The Albany Great Danes 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 St. Mary’s Mountaineers.  The Mount opened the game by missing their first 11 attempts, six of which were three-pointers.

Albany took advantage of the poor shooting by MSM: 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, the Great Danes took a 35-31 advantage into the locker room.

The fourth triple by Miller helped give the Mountaineers 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 Albany regained the lead.  Back-to-back makes from long distance by Miller brought the Mount within one-point of the Great Danes, 63-62, with only 3:38 remaining.

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

Miller led the Mountaineers 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.

The Great Danes were 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.

The Mount was able to stay in the game thanks to their 12 triples compared to Albany’s two.  They also only turned the ball over four times compared to the Great Danes’ 14.  However, despite their 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 Albany.

It was a great season for MSM, 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.