Men’s Basketball Falls to St. Francis in NEC Quarterfinals

Photo of Will Miller
Photo courtesy of Mount Athletics

The Mount St. Mary’s men’s basketball team fell to fifth seeded St. Francis (PA) in the quarterfinal round of the NEC tournament on Mar 4. Sophomore guard Will Miller led the Mountaineers with 14 points off the bench in the loss. Greg Brown paced St. Francis with a game high 24 points for the Red Flash, who moved on to semifinal round.

Both teams struggled to get anything going offensively in the opening minutes as turnovers plagued both teams at either end of the floor. St. Francis subsequently scored the first nine points of the game to grab an early lead on the Mount, who shot just 32% from the field in the first half. Head Coach Jamion Christian remarked, “We were really fired up to play this game and very excited. We just made some costly turnovers throughout the course of it”.

St. Francis extended their lead to 15-6 following a three point jumper by Dominique Major, but the Mount responded as they have done all season. A 7-0 run by the Mount cut St. Francis’ lead to two with just over eight minutes to play in the first half.

Back to back three point jumpers by sophomore guard Byron Ashe and Miller gave the Mount its only lead of the game with 3:46 to play before halftime. St. Francis responded with a run of their own and took a five-point lead (29-24) into the locker room. Coach Christian said afterwards, “In games like this, you’ve got to make some shots and you can’t play nervous. I thought we did a little bit earlier”.

The Mount kept things close early in the second half as graduate student Kristian Krajina slammed home a thunderous dunk to cut St. Francis’ lead to 33-28 18:15 to play. Krajina’s jam was followed by a three point jumper by red-shirt freshman Charles Glover, which brought the Mount within two at the 16:00 mark.

St. Francis was poised to make a run and the Red Flash responded in a big way after Glover’s timely jump shot. They went on to score 13 of the next 15 points to take a 46-33 lead with 12:00 to play, which seemed to put the game out of reach.

The Red Flash pushed their lead to 15 with just over five minutes to play, yet the Mount continued to chip away as more time ticked off the clock. Miller drained a three pointer and freshman guard Junior Robinson drove all the way to the goal to cut the deficit to single digits with 3:56 to play.

Ashe had an opportunity to cut St. Francis’ lead to five, but his three point attempt clanged off the back of the iron. The Red Flash pushed up the floor and regained a double-digit advantage, which forced the Mount to foul.

St. Francis had a stellar performance at the foul line over the final two minutes, sinking 13 of 14 free-throw attempts to put the game away. When the final whistle sounded, The Red Flash came out on top by a final of 73-58 over the Mount, who finished 15-15 on the season.

Speaking with 1450 AM The Source’s Adam Pohl, Coach Christian commented on the career of forward Kristian Krajina, who played his final game in a Mount uniform against St. Francis. Christian noted, “It’s sad to see his career end this way because he has been such an inspirational figure for our team. It has been a special run with him”. Christian went on to say that, “Our season starts tomorrow”, signaling an immediate start to the 2015-16 season for the Mount.

Andrew Wyatt

Sports Editor of The Mountain Echo

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