Washington, D.C. (December 18, 2018)—Freshman Malik Jefferson tallied 12 points and 20 rebounds to propel Mount St. Mary's to a 56-55 win at American on Tuesday night. The 20 rebounds are the most by a Mount player in the school's NCAA Division I era.
The Mountaineers held a 56-55 lead, but American was able to get a defensive stop and a chance to win at the end. American's leading scorer, Sa'eed Nelson drove the length of the court, but saw his lay-up come up short. The Mount's Omar Habwe grabbed the board to secure the one-point victory.
Jefferson hit 6-of-12 from the field for his 12 points. He had 12 offensive rebounds in the game en route to his career-high 20 rebounds for his second double-double of the year. His 20 rebounds broke the Mount's previous NCAA Division I high of 18 boards set by Chris Cavanagh against Fairleigh Dickinson on Feb. 15, 1992. The Mount moved to NCAA Division I in 1988-89.
Jalen Gibbs added eight points and seven rebounds in the win while Dee Barnes also scored eight for the Mountaineers (2-9). Vado Morse and Habwe added seven points each off the bench. Nelson led all scorers with 23 points while Sam Iorio chipped in 12 points for American (5-4) in the game.
Mount St. Mary's held a commanding 44-to-28 advantage on the boards in the win. The Mount shot 35.6 percent overall and were just 4-of-18 (.222) from three-point range. American shot 43.4 percent overall, but were held to 3-of-23 (.130) shooting from beyond the arc.
In the second half, Nelson scored six points during a 13-to-6 American run that evened the score at 35-35. Jefferson countered on the other end for the Mount, hitting a putback to help the Mount regain the lead. That sparked a 6-0 run that put the Mountaineers ahead, 41-35.
American answered with a 9-to-3 run to tie the game again at 44-44, but the Mount's Habwe hit a key three-pointer to put the Mount back on top, 47-44. Morse then connected on a long ball to push the advantage to 50-44 with 5:45 left.
American fought back to cut the deficit to one, but Morse hit a pair of free throws and Damian Chong Qui a bucket to put the Mountaineers ahead, 54-49. Back-to-back baskets by American's Iorio and Nelson made it a one-point game again, but the Mount was able to push the lead back to three, 56-53, on a Jefferson putback with 1:40 left.
Each team got defensive stops, and American then got a pair of free throws from Josh Alexander to cut the Mount advantage to 56-55 with 41 seconds left in regulation to set up the final two possessions.
On the Mount's final possession, Habwe missed a three-pointer, but Jefferson corralled the offensive board. Jefferson, however, had the ball stolen, setting up Nelson for the final play of the game.
The Mount used a strong defensive effort to grab a 29-22 lead at the half. The Mountaineers held American to 10-of-30 (.333) shooting from the field in the opening half, including 1-of-14 (.071) from beyond the arc.
Mount St. Mary's used an 18-to-2 run to take a 13-point advantage. After American grabbed a 12-9 lead on a Nelson basket, the Mount responded with the next eight points. Chong Qui started the run with a floater in the lane, and a pair of Habwe free throws put the Mount ahead, 13-12. Malik Jefferson converted in the paint, and Chong Qui closed the run with a lay-up off a breakout for a five-point advantage.
After a Josh Alexander basket, the Mount scored the next 10 points to push the advantage to 27-14. Jefferson keyed the run with three consecutive baskets.
Jefferson led the Mount with eight points and seven boards in the opening half while Gibbs chipped in six points and five rebounds.
The Mount returns to Knott Arena on Saturday, December 22, when St. Mary's (Md.) visits Knott Arena. Tip-off is set for 4:00 p.m.