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 3-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. Nana Opoku then blocked a Raiquan Clark 3-point attempt on the other end, but the ball went out of bounds with the Blackbirds retaining possession.
On the inbounds, Ty Flowers connected on a step-back 3 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 3-pointer hit the front of the rim at the buzzer, and the Mountaineers held on.
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 3-pointers by Morse and Gibbs. The Blackbirds (9-10, 3-4) 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 3s 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 3 and Clark a put-back 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 3-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.
Mount St. Mary's is back in action Jan. 26 with a 5 p.m. matchup against St. Francis Brooklyn at Knott Arena.