Staten Island, N.Y. (January 19, 2018) – The Mount St. Mary's men's basketball team topped Wagner by a 70-56 margin on Saturday for the team's first Northeast Conference (NEC) victory of the season. Freshman guard Vado Morse led the Mountaineers with a career-high 20 points in the contest.
Morse went 5-of-11 from the field and knocked down a trio of three-pointers during his career performance, while also adding four assists. The rookie scored 16 of his 20 points in the second half of play. Damian Chong Qui registered 12 points and four assists, and Omar Habwe chipped in 10 points and five boards on the day.
The Mountaineers posted a 57.1 percent mark from the field in the second half, including a 6-of-9 clip (.667) from three-point territory. They shot 48.9 percent overall and made 9-of-22 (.409) from long range. Wagner shot 35.2 percent in the contest and made just 9-of-32 (.281) from deep. The Mount held a 34-30 edge on the boards over the Seahawks, who came into the contest as the league's top rebounding team.
The victory was the first in conference play for rookie Head Coach Dan Engelstad. The Mount, which improved to 4-14 overall and 1-4 in league play, posted the first regular season win at Wagner since 2010. The Seahawks dropped to 8-8 overall on the season and 3-2 in the NEC following the loss.
The Mount held a 30-25 lead entering the second half, and after just 10 points combined from the two teams in the opening five minutes of the second frame, Morse connected on back-to-back possessions with a three-pointer and a jumper to make it a 38-32 game.
Wagner cut the deficit to 43-39 following five straight points from Tim Graham, but Morse answered with five of his own on a pair of free throws and a three from the wing, which was his third triple of the half. After Nana Opoku hit 1-of-2 from the line, Dee Barnes drained one from deep to give the Mountaineers a 52-39 lead. Just over a minute later, Jalen Gibbs got to the paint for two, and Omar Habwe followed with a long ball to increase the advantage to 15 with 7:19 on the clock.
Wagner was able to whittle down the deficit to 63-53 with 2:04 remaining, but the Mountaineers responded with the game's next six points to grab their largest lead of the tilt. Damian Chong Qui's dagger three-pointer with 1:12 left made it a 69-53 advantage. The Mount closed things out for the 70-56 win.
In the early going of the contest, the Mountaineers opened up their first lead, 7-4, at the 17:25 mark following a three-pointer by Barnes. After a Nigel Jackson jumper made it a one-point game, the Mount defense held Wagner without a field goal for over a five-minute stretch and built an eight-point advantage during the period. Back-to-back buckets from Chong Qui and Morse, followed by a pair of foul shots from Malik Jefferson capped the stretch and made it a 15-7 game.
Five straight points from the Seahawks' Graham cut their deficit to three, but the Mountaineer defense tightened up once again, holding Wagner without a field goal for a stretch of 7:46 this time. The Mount went on an 8-1 run during the stretch to open a 23-13 advantage with just over three minutes left in the half.
Wagner put an end to its drought at the 3:02 mark on a three-pointer from Jackson, and the Seahawks made their final three field goal attempts of the half to trim the Mount lead to 30-25 at the break.
The Mountaineers shot 41.7 percent from the floor in the opening half while holding Wagner to a 29.6 percent mark. Both teams struggled from long range as the Mount went 3-of-13 (.231) and Wagner shot 3-of-17 (.176).
Mount St. Mary's heads to Fairleigh Dickinson for a matchup on Monday, January 21 at 2 p.m.