Fairfield, Conn. (February 9, 2019)--Vado Morse and Jalen Gibbs combined for 44 points as Mount St. Mary's held off Sacred Heart, 76-73, on Saturday afternoon at the William H. Pitt Center. Morse led the Mount with 23 points while Gibbs added 21 in the victory.
The Mount (6-19, 3-9 NEC) held off a furious Sacred Heart rally to earn the win. Leading by 17 points in the second half, and by 15 with 7:50 remaining, the Mount saw Sacred Heart (11-14, 7-5 NEC) have a chance to tie the game at the end. Mount St. Mary's led 67-52 after a pair of Morse free throws with 7:50 left in the second half, but a quick 6-0 run cut the Mount lead to single digits. A Koreem Ozier lay-up with 4:42 left made it a seven-point game, and Sean Hoehn then hit a three-pointer from the right wing to cut the deficit to 69-65 with 2:17 on the clock.
Hoehn hit 1-of-2 at the line to make it 69-66 with 1:33 left, but the Mount's Morse countered with a clutch jumper on the other end to stretch the lead back to five. Damian Chong Qui sandwiched four free throws around a Kinnon LaRose three-pointer to put the Mount ahead, 75-69. Sacred Heart's E.J. Anosike scored in the paint, and after a Mount turnover, Hoehn converted a lay-up to make it 75-73 with 15 seconds left. Morse was fouled after the inbounds pass, and he hit 1-of-2 at the line to give the Mount a three-point lead. Sacred Heart was able to get the ball to LaRose open at the top of the key for a potential game-tying three-pointer, but his shot was off the mark, and the Mount held on for the win.
Morse put together a sensational line, finishing with 23 points, seven rebounds and five assists. The four-time NEC Rookie of the Week was 9-for-16 from the field in the game. Gibbs added 21 points and six rebounds, hitting 4-of-7 from three-point range for his fifth 20-point game of the year. Malik Jefferson added 13 points and five rebounds while hitting all six of his field goal attempts for the Mountaineers while Chong Qui had seven points, five assists and four rebounds. Hoehn led Sacred Heart with 24 points, Ozier added 18 and LaRose 15 off the bench.
Mount St. Mary's shot 53.7 percent from the field in the game while hitting 8-of-16 from three-point range. Sacred Heart shot 44.4 percent overall and was 6-of-19 beyond the arc. The Mount held a 32-28 edge on the boards.
The Mount started the second half strong, using a 10-to-3 run to take its biggest lead of the gameat the time at 45-31. Jefferson started the run with a strong low post move, and Gibbs drilled a three-pointer. After a Cameron Parker three-pointer, Chong Qui converted a drive, and Gibbs finished in transition on a feed from Morse for the 14-point advantage.
After the Pioneers cut the Mount lead to 52-43, Gibbs went on a personal 8-0 run to stretch the advantage to 17. He started the run with a traditional three-point play, then drained a there-pointer at the end of the shot clock, and ended the run on a bucket in the paint on a baseline out of bounds play on a feed from Chong Qui to put the Mount ahead, 60-43.
In the first half, Sacred Heart held an early 8-6 advantage, but the Mount responded with an 11-3 run to take a six-point lead. Jefferson started the run with consecutive buckets, and after an Ozier three-pointer, Gibbs banked a long ball home to put the Mount up, 15-11. Jefferson then closed the run with another basket to make it a six-point lead. After Sacred Heart cut the deficit to 17-15, the Mount rattled off a 13-to-3 run to take a 12-point advantage.
Morse started the run with a three-pointer, and Collin Nnamane converted a dunk on a pass from Omar Habwe. Habwe then drilled a three-pointer from the left corner to make it 25-15 with 9:18 left in the opening half. After a LaRose three-point play, Gibbs drilled a three-pointer and Morse a jumper to give the Mount its biggest lead of the half at 30-18.
A Dee Barnes bucket in the paint gave the Mount a 35-24 lead with 1:33 left in the first half, but the Pioneers scored the final four points of the half to make it 35-28 at the break.
Morse led the Mount with 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting in the first half while Gibbs added eight. Hoehn led SHU with 10 first-half points, including a pair on a drive at the buzzer after a steal near midcourt.
The Mount shot 50.0 percent from the field in the first half, hitting 5-of-10 from beyond the arc. Sacred Heart shot 33.3 percent overall and was 2-for-11 from three-point range.
The Mount is now 28-11 all-time against Sacred Heart, including wins in 17 of the past 21 matchups. The Mount is back in action on Thursday, February 14, with a 7:00 p.m. home game versus rival Robert Morris.