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Carroll County Times
Carroll County Sports

Men's Basketball: Coach's 'T' sparks Mount St. Mary's to take NEC title

EMMITSBURG — Jamion Christian had had enough.

Mount St. Mary's spent most of the first 20-plus minutes of Saturday's game against St. Francis Brooklyn locked in a physical battle, with the Mountaineers trying to post one more win before celebrating a Northeast Conference regular-season championship. MSM trailed by one four minutes into the second half when Elijah Long grabbed a steal and headed down the other end for a fastbreak layup.

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Not before a foul sent Long sprawling to the floor and into the stanchion below the basket. When the officials used replay to determine the foul wasn't flagrant, Christian went off.

And then, so did the Mount — following their coach's technical foul, the Mountaineers embarked on a game-clinching run that put things away for a 77-62 victory at Knott Arena.

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Mount St. Mary's, NEC regular-season champions for the first time in 21 years, will take the No. 1 seed into action at the upcoming conference tournament.

Long, a sophomore guard, started a 20-0 run for Mount St. Mary's that turned a 42-40 squeaker into a 62-40 romp. The outburst came just after a rare technical for Christian, who voiced his displeasure after Long was fouled by St. Francis Brooklyn's Jahmel Bodrick at the 15:57 mark.

"I just want these guys to know that I'm there for them," Christian said, flanked by Long and junior forward Chris Wray during the post-game press conference. "I'm just not going to let [their] guys just come in and foul our guys like that. There's a way you foul in basketball that's clean. There's a way that's kind of gray and borderline, and there's a way that's just [egregious]. They were on that borderline for too many fouls in a row.

"I just felt like it was my obligation to ... what would you guys say, put those refs on blast? Just make sure that they knew we were here and we weren't going to stand for that."

The Mountaineers (16-15, 14-4 NEC) made seven field goals in a row during their big run. Freshman guard Miles Wilson scored 10 points during the surge, while junior guard Junior Robinson swished a pair of 3-pointers. Long and fellow sophomore Mawdo Sallah each converted layups as well.

The Terriers (4-27, 2-16), who enjoyed a 17-0 run in the first half and led by 10 points early on, were on their way to their 16th straight loss.

Freshman guard Gianni Ford led St. Francis Brooklyn with 23 points, a game high, but netted 20 of them in the first half.

Long had a team-high 22 points for Mount St. Mary's, and Wilson scored 17. Robinson added 10 points, and Long handed out seven assists to go with three steals.

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"If you see your coach want it more than the players, that's going to get us on edge," Long said. "He raised the bar high for us, and ... we just came out with a lot of fire. When you see your coach fighting for you like that, you're going to fight for him."

St. Francis University's win over Fairleigh Dickinson earlier in the day made the Mount's game insignificant in terms of clinching anything. And Christian started his three seniors — Charles Glover, Khalid Nwandu, and Will Miller — on Senior Day.

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But thanks to the second-half scoring surge, Christian got a chance to get the trio of seniors back on the court in the final minutes.

When the game ended, the Mountaineers donned white T-shirts commemorating their title while Queen's "We Are The Champions" blared through the public address speakers.

It's onto the NEC tourney, which begins Wednesday with quarterfinal games. Mount St. Mary's hosts Sacred Heart, the No. 8 seed, at 7 p.m. The Mount beat the Pioneers twice during the regular season, both times by double digits.

"To be a regular-season champion means you've played well for ... two straight months," Christian said. "That's amazing, that's very hard to do. I've been in this business for a long time [and] I've only been involved with two teams that were good enough to be the No. 1 team going into the tournament. So we're really excited about this milestone.

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"We are going to enjoy it until about midnight and then we're going to rest and put all of our energy into Sacred Heart. We've got bigger goals ahead of us."

pat.stoetzer@carrollcountytimes.com

410-857-7894


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