Loretto, Pa. (January 3, 2019)—Mount St. Mary's opened Northeast Conference play with an 80-69 loss at preseason favorite Saint Francis U on Thursday night. Omar Habwe paced the Mountaineers with 21 points in the game.
The Mount (3-11, 0-1 NEC) rallied from a 15-point first half deficit to grab a 41-40 lead early in the second half. The Red Flash responded to take a 55-49 lead, but a Malik Jefferson bucket and a three-pointer by Damian Chong Qui cut the deficit to 55-54. Saint Francis countered with a 10-to-2 run to push the lead to nine, but the Mount hung tough and made it a five-point game, 65-60, with just under seven minutes left.
Saint Francis senior Jamal King then drained a long three-pointer and added a bucket in the paint to put his team up by 10, and the Red Flash (5-7, 1-0 NEC) were able to hang on for the victory.
Habwe hit 8-of-16 from the field and 4-of-9 from three-point range for his team-high 21 points. Morse scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half while Chong Qui tallied all 13 of his points in the second stanza for the Mountaineers. Jalen Gibbs added 11 points in the game while Collin Nnamane and Jefferson each pulled down eight rebounds for the Mount.
King led the Red Flash with a game-high 25 points while Keith Braxton recorded 17 points and 17 rebounds in the win. The Red Flash shot 52.5 percent from the field in the game, and were 11-of-22 (.500) from three-point range. The Mount shot 37.5 percent overall, and was 10-of-33 (.303) from beyond the arc.
The Red Flash opened the game with a 14-2 run to take the early advantage. Luidgy Laporal closed the run with back-to-back buckets for Saint Francis. The Mount cut the deficit to nine on a Gibbs baseline jumper, but the Red Flash were able to extend the advantage to 30-15 on a Braxton lay-up with 6:44 left in the half.
The Mountaineers rallied, scoring the next 10 points to make it a five-point game. Habwe capped the run by hitting back-to-back three-pointers to make it 30-25 with 3:30 left in the half. SFU's King drained a long three-pointer on the next possession, and a Braxton triple gave Saint Francis a 38-28 lead. Gibbs countered at the other end when he nailed a left corner three-pointer at the halftime buzzer to make it a seven-point game at the break.
Habwe led the Mount with 13 points in the opening half while Gibbs chipped in seven points. Nnamane added five points and six rebounds in the opening 20 minutes for the Mount. King led SFU with 10 points while Thompson added nine.
The Mount shot 38.2 percent from the floor in the opening half, including 3-of-13 (.231) from three-point range. The Red Flash shot 51.7 percent in the first half, and were 6-of-12 (.500) from beyond the arc.
Saint Francis snapped the Mount's seven-game win streak in the all-time series. It is just the fourth win by the Red Flash in the past 28 meetings between the two teams.
The Mount is back in action on Saturday, January 5, at Robert Morris in a rematch of last year's NEC Quarterfinal. Tip-off is set for 5:00 p.m.