December 1, 2012

Kristijan Krajina Comes Up with Key Block as Mount St. Mary's Downs Binghamton, 71-70

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. (December 1, 2012)—Kristijan Krajina blocked the potential game-winning shot at the buzzer as Mount St. Mary's outlasted Binghamton, 71-70, on Saturday afternoon.  The Mount (3-3) rallied from a 14-point first-half deficit to earn the victory.

Krajina finished with season highs of 12 points and eight rebounds while junior point guard Josh Castellanos scored nine of his team-high 14 points over the final 3:00 of the victory.

Castellanos hit a pair of free throws with 3:00 left to even the score at 62-62 and followed with a drive to the basket 17 seconds later to give the Mount a 64-62 lead.  After a Binghamton free throw, Sam Prescott converted a tough drive in the lane to put the Mount ahead 66-63 with 1:47 on the clock.

The Mount forced a pair of turnovers on the next two Binghamton possessions, and Castellanos cashed in on the second one, draining a three-pointer with 54 seconds left to put the Mount ahead, 69-63.

The Bearcats (2-6) hung tough, whittling the Mount advantage to 71-70 on a Jimmy Gray three-pointer with 15.0 seconds remaining.  Binghamton then fouled Julian Norfleet on the inbounds, but the Mount junior guard missed both charity tosses, setting up the final play.

Binghamton got the ball to freshman Jordan Reed, who drove to the middle as the game clock was winding down, but his shot from the free throw line was rejected by Krajina, allowing the Mount to earn the win.

"In any win on the road, no matter who the opponent, you have to gut out the victory," said Mount St. Mary's head coach Jamion Christian.  "This is another big step for our program as I am proud of our effort and passion throughout the game.  We showed the ability to make plays down the stretch today."

Julian Norfleet (13), Rashad Whack (11) and Prescott (10) also scored in double figures for the Mountaineers.  The Mount shot 45.8 percent in the game, including 14-of-26 (.538) in the second half.  Norfleet had a game-high five steals while Shivaughn Wiggins dished out a team-best four assists.

Mount St. Mary's scored 28 points off 21 Binghamton turnovers as the Mount's Mayhem defense continues to shine.  The Mount has forced the past five opponents into an average of 21.2 turnovers per game.

Trailing 32-18 after a Gray three-pointer with 4:22 left in the opening half, the Mount closed with a 12-2 run to cut the halftime deficit to 34-30.   Castellanos had five points in the run that was capped when Wiggins banked home a three-pointer from the left wing with nine seconds left in the half.

The Mountaineers struggled from the field in the first half, connecting on 39 percent shooting (13-of-33), including a 3-for-14 (.214) performance from three-point range.  The Mount's Mayhem defense force Binghamton into 12 first-half turnovers.   Binghamton shot 57 percent in the opening half, including 4-of-6 (.667) from three-point range.

Norfleet led the Mountaineers with 11 points and four steals in the opening half while Krajina had four points and five boards. 

Mount St. Mary's returns home to face Navy on Friday, December 7, at 7:00 p.m. at Knott Arena.

Game Notes:  This was the third meeting all-time between the two teams with the Mount now holding a 2-1 lead in the series…The Mount has won back-to-back non-conference road games for the first time since November of 2009…The Mount is 3-3 on the season for the first time since the 2009-10 campaign.