New Britain, Conn. (February 21, 2019) – Five different Mountaineers registered double-figure points as Mount St. Mary's rolled to a 79-66 victory at Central Connecticut State on Thursday night in Northeast Conference action at Detrick Gymnasium.
Jalen Gibbs led the way with a game-high 20 points, going 7-of-13 from the field to record his sixth 20-point effort of the season. Vado Morse added 14 points and dished out a career-high eight assists. Damian Chong Qui filled the stat sheet with 11 points, a career-best eight rebounds, and six assists, and Nana Opoku and Malik Jefferson both finished with 10 points.
The win pushed the Mountaineers to 8-20 overall and 5-10 in conference play, as they are now tied with Central Connecticut (11-17, 5-10 NEC) and sit one game behind Bryant and LIU Brooklyn for the final playoff spot.
CCSU was led by Joe Hugley, who finished with 17 points and seven boards. Jamir Coleman collected a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. The Blue Devils' leading scorer Tyler Kohl, who ranks second in the league in scoring, was held scoreless in the tilt.
CCSU built its largest lead of the game, 23-14, at the midway mark of the first before a big Mountaineer run propelled them out in front. Consecutive layups from Morse and Malik Jefferson got things started, and Gibbs' bucket in the paint brought the Mount within five. After a layup by CCSU's Coleman, the Mount began what would become a string of 20 straight points to take a commanding lead.
Chong Qui's long ball from the corner gave the Mountaineers their first advantage of the contest at 28-27. The rookie followed with another triple before Gibbs converted in transition to extend the Mount lead to 33-27 at the 4:33 mark.
After a scoreless two-minute stretch, Opoku finished off a traditional three-point play to push the lead to 36-27. Gibbs followed with the next four points to make it 20 straight by the Mount in just under six minutes of play. The overall Mountaineer run capped off at 26-4 over a stretch of 8:43, as it put them in front by a 40-27 margin heading into the final minute of the first half.
Deion Bute finally put an end to the Mount rally by making 1-of-2 at the line, and the Blue Devils would go on to score the final five points of the frame to close the gap to 41-33 at the halftime break.
The Mount defense forced 12 turnovers by CCSU in the opening half. Gibbs led the way on the offensive end with 10 points in the stanza, while Chong Qui and Opoku both added eight.
The Mount scored 12 of the opening 16 points in the second half to grab its largest lead of the game, 53-37. CCSU answered with seven straight points, all coming from Tyson Batiste and Bute, to cut its deficit back to single digits, 56-48, and force a Mount St. Mary's timeout at the 11:00 mark. Coming out of the timeout, Gibbs knocked down three-pointers on back-to-back Mount possessions to push the lead to 62-48.
Trailing by 15 with eight minutes remaining, the Blue Devils rattled off a 13-4 run to bring them back within six, 67-61, at the 4:28 mark. Opoku and Gibbs answered with back-to-back buckets to push the lead up to 10, and the Blue Devils never cut it back to single-digits the rest of the way.
The Mount shot 46.4 percent in the contest and went 8-of-22 (.364) from deep. CCSU registered a 41.7 percent shooting night but hit just 3-of-21 (.143) beyond the arc.
Mount St. Mary's rounds out its road trip on Saturday, February 23 at Bryant at 4 p.m.