Emmitsburg, Md. (January 24, 2019)--Freshman Vado Morse scored a career-high 24 points while Jalen Gibbs added 19 to lead Mount St. Mary's past LIU Brooklyn, 74-72, in Northeast Conference action at Knott Arena on Thursday night. LIU had a chance to win at the end, but saw its three-point attempt from the right corner hit the front of the rim.
The Mountaineers (5-15, 2-5 NEC) held a 74-69 lead after a pair of Morse free throws with 23 seconds remaining. The Mount's Nana Opoku then blocked a Raiquan Clark three-point attempt on the other end, but the ball went out of bounds with the Blackbirds retaining possession. On the inbounds, LIU's Ty Flowers connected on a step-back three-pointer that cut the Mount lead to 74-72 with 11 seconds remaining. The Mount inbounded the ball to Morse, and after an LIU double team, called timeout with 5.9 seconds on the clock. On the ensuing inbounds, the Mount threw the ball long, but LIU's Flowers came up with the ball. He was able to find Raul Frias in the right corner. Frias saw his three-pointer hit the front of the rim at the buzzer, and the Mountaineers were able to secure the win.
Tied 32-32 at the half, the Mount opened the second half on a 9-0 run on a traditional three-point play from Malik Jefferson, and back-to-back three-pointers by Morse and Gibbs. The Blackbirds (9-10, 3-4 NEC) cut into the Mount's advantage, and trailed 47-45 after a Raiquan Clark bucket with 14:26 left in the game. The Mount responded with an 8-0 run that featured back-to-back three-pointers by Morse and Gibbs, and a Morse jumper, to take a 55-45 lead.
The Mount maintained the advantage, and held a 66-56 lead with 5:14 on the clock after a pair of Omar Habwe free throws. A fast-break bucket by Jefferson with 3:14 left had the Mount ahead, 70-62, before LIU rallied. Flowers hit a three-pointer and Clark a putback to cut the Mount advantage with 70-67 with 2:11 remaining. The Mount then forced a turnover, and Gibbs was fouled intentionally on a breakaway to the basket. Gibbs hit both free throws to make it a five-point game, but LIU was able to get a defensive stop, and Clark hit a pair of free throws on the other end to make it 72-69 with 59 seconds on the clock.
The Mount missed a three-point attempt on the next possession, but Habwe was able to force a jump ball on the rebound with the Mount holding the possession arrow. Morse was fouled, and he hit both free throws to extend the Mount lead to 74-69 and set up the exciting finish.
Morse was 7-of-15 from the field, 4-of-9 from three-point range and 6-of-7 at the line en route to his career-best 24 points. Morse has scored in double figures in each of the past nine games, including a pair of 20-point efforts over his past three contests. Gibbs scored 14 of his 19 points in the second half, adding six rebounds for the Mount in the win. Jefferson was 4-of-5 from the field and finished with 11 points and five rebounds as well. Habwe chipped in eight points and five boards, Damian Chong Qui had six assists, and Opoku had four blocks for the Mount in the victory. Clark, the NEC's leading scorer, finished with 22 points and eight rebounds while Julian Batts added 12 points for the Blackbirds in the game. The Mount shot 40.7 percent from the field in the game, and was 10-of-29 (.345) from three-point range. LIU shot 47.5 percent from the floor and was 8-of-20 (.400) from beyond the arc. LIU held a 39-to-30 edge on the boards as well.
Trailing 10-6 early in the first half, the Mount grabbed the lead with a 9-0 run. Dee Barnes hit a three-pointer to start the run, that was capped by a Gibbs fast-break bucket. A Gibbs traditional three-point play gave the Mount its biggest lead of the first half at 27-19. LIU was able to close the half on a 13-to-5 run over the final 4:32 to even the score at 32-32 at the break.
Mount St. Mary's is back in action on Saturday, January 26, with a 5:00 p.m. matchup with St. Francis Brooklyn at Knott Arena.