Mount Drops Nailbiter to Monmouth, 68-66

Emmitsburg, Md. (February 18, 2012)--Mount St. Mary's was edged by Monmouth, 68-66, on Saturday night at Knott Arena.  Sophomore Julian Norfleet paced the Mountaineers with 21 points in the loss.

The Mount used a 12-3 run midway through the second half to take a 60-51 lead with 9:12 left in the game.  Norfleet started the run with a three-pointer ahead of a Raven Barber tip-in.  After a Monmouth three cut the Mount lead to 53-51, Norfleet drained another three to push the lead back to five.  Barber added a free throw and Kelvin Parker capped the run with a traditional three-point play to give the Mount the nine-point advantage.

The Hawks (10-19, 8-8 NEC), who clinched a spot in the Northeast Conference Tournament with the win, then scored the next 10 points to take the lead.  Dion Nesmith, who scored a team-high 20 points in the win, capped the run with a three-pointer to give Monmouth a 61-60 lead with 5:07 left.

Josh Castellanos answered with a pair of free throws, but Mike Myers Keitt and Nesmith hit back-to-back threes to push the Monmouth lead to 67-62 with 3:39 left. 

Trailing 68-64 with just under a minute left, Parker provided a highlight reel tip-in dunk to cut the Monmouth lead to 68-66 with 52 seconds left.  Monmouth forward Ed Waite was fouled on the next possession, but he missed both free throws, giving the Mount a chance to tie or take the lead.

The Mount (7-20, 5-11 NEC) turned the ball over on that possession, and was forced to foul Jesse Steele with 3.1 seconds left.  Steele missed the free throw, but Norfleet was unable to get a shot off in the final seconds, allowing Monmouth to escape with the victory.

Norfleet hit 7-of-14 from the field and was 4-for-9 from beyond the arc to lead the Mount with 21 points.  Barber added 13 points and nine boards off the bench while senior Danny Thompson chipped in 13 points and six rebounds in his final appearance at Knott Arena.  Parker finished with eight points and a career-high 11 rebounds in the loss.

Nesmith was 6-for-7 from three-point range to lead Monmouth with his 20-point effort while Andrew Nicholas chipped in 19 points in the victory.  Monmouth was a sizzling 14-for-25 (.560) from three-point range in the game. 

Mount St. Mary's is two games out of the final spot in the NEC Tournament with two games to play.  The Mount needs to win its final two games and have Sacred Heart drop its final two contests to earn the playoff bid.  The top eight teams in the NEC standings advance to the NEC Tournament.

The Mount heads to Central Connecticut State on Thursday, Feb. 23, for a 7:00 p.m. game.  The game will be televised live on MSG and at 9:00 p.m. on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN).