Andrew Wyatt, Staff Writer
Nicholas Schreiber, Sports Editor
The Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers faced off with the Albany Great Danes in the First Four round of the NCAA Tournament on Tuesday in Dayton, OH. It was a matchup of an up-tempo offensive against a half-court style of play.
The small contingent of Mount fans battled for crowd supremacy versus the thunderous Albany pep band at Dayton Arena. The fans were pumped and ready to go as they filled the arena with the classic “Let’s Go Mountaineers” chant.
Sophomore Taylor Danaher had a block and freshman Byron Ashe fouled on the opening possession. Senior Rashad Whack picked up the first foul for the Mount on a block, while Albany had two fouls in the opening minutes. The Danes exploded for a 21-2 scoring run in the first seven minutes, as it was a cold start for the Mount, who were unable to knock down any buckets. Norfleet and Prescott missed two close-range opportunities. However, an 8-2 run brought the Mount back within 11 at the 9:13 mark of the first half.
Albany led 35-31 at the half after two straight buckets to close out the first frame of play, the Mount trailed 21-2 early, but fought back to take the lead on separate occasions.
Albany scored the first bucket of the second half and never looked back. Freshman Will Miller caught fire and carried the Mount with a career high 21 points on seven three-point jumpers. Senior Sam Prescott also contributed in the second half with a couple of contested three-pointers and two, tough dribble drives to keep the Mount close.
The Mountaineers continued their success from the line that sparked an initial run in the first half. Miller drained another three late in the second half to cut the Albany lead to 63-59, and drained another to cut the Albany lead to one. Norfleet then scored and pulled the Mount back within one following an Albany bucket.
Rashad Whack barely missed a three that rattled and in out of the basket that would have tied the game at 64 with under a minute to play. The Mount was then forced to foul and Albany iced the game from the foul line.
Will Miller led the Mount with 21 points on the night, while Norfleet grabbed five rebounds and seven assists. Whack added 16 points while Prescott shot 6-13 from the field to contribute 14 points. The Mountaineers shooting woes caught up to them in the first half, as the Mount scored on just 34% of their shot attempts in the first frame. They shot 36.7% over the course of the game, a value that was skewed by poor shooting in the first half.
The Mount were able to use Albany’s turnovers to turn the tide of the game in the first half and managed 14 total points off turnovers during the game. Albany scored 38 points in the paint compared to the Mount’s 18, which proved to be a decisive factor.
Despite the loss, the Mountaineers performed well in their 1st NCAA Tournament appearance since 2008 and look to defend their NEC Championship in the 2014-15 season.