Ashe's shooting lifts Mount St. Mary's

EMMITSBURG — Byron Ashe was scoring every time he drove to the basket, no matter if it was contested or an off-balance shot.

He was knocking down 3-pointers with hands in his face and while falling to the ground.


And it surprised nobody. Not his teammates, not his coach.

Ashe poured in a career-high 24 points on Saturday, 20 in the first half, to lift Mount St. Mary's to a 75-68 win over Bryant at Knott Arena.

"We recruited him to do that, so I've been waiting for him to do it for about two years," Mountaineers coach Jamion Christian said. "It's about getting comfortable, it's about knowing when to take an opportunity when opportunity presents itself, and how to be locked into the moment."

That moment started for the Mount's sophomore guard when he scored on three straight possessions midway through the first half. He converted tough, back-to-back layups, the second of which he finished reverse-style to cut the Mount's early deficit to 15-12. Then, he made a short pull-up jumper with 11 minutes, 30 seconds remaining to trim it to one.

Ashe later gave the Mountaineers (12-13, 8-6 Northeast Conference) their first lead, which they never relinquished, on a contested driving layup with 9:10 until halftime making it 18-17.

"Kind of my downfall, but kind of a good thing for me, is I tend to take shots that I shouldn't shoot sometimes," Ashe said. "But they go in sometimes."

That likely included when Ashe hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key with a hand in his face off a dish from Kristijan Krajina with 8:23 to go in the first half. And then another pair of 3s in the final 1:13, the second of which Ashe had his defender's hand in his face at the top of the key and then took an off-balance shot that had Ashe seated on the ground as the ball went through the net.

Mountaineers junior forward Gregory Graves cackled as Ashe described his tendency to not have the best shot selection at times. But does it surprise him to see his teammate's low-percentage shots fall?

"No, he does it every day in practice," Graves said. "We call him a good bad-shot taker. We expect those shots from him and we expect them to go in because we see them go in all the time."

Ashe has had a bit of an inconsistent season, part of which can be attributed to his difficult shots sometimes not falling in. He's had a pair of games where he scored 21 points, but then there are other times where nothing goes in, like his 1-for-12 performance against Old Dominion on Dec. 29 and a more recent 2-for-9 shooting on Feb. 5 at Bryant.

But this time against the Bulldogs (12-13, 9-5), Ashe shot 9 for 19, including 8 for 12 in the first half.

Graves added 12 points and seven rebounds and Junior Robinson and Will Miller each chipped in nine points for the Mountaineers. Dyami Starks led Bryant with 18 points on 7-for-13 shooting.

The Mount also collected 15 offensive rebounds and forced 12 turnovers.

However, the Bulldogs stayed close througout most of the second half. They trailed just 67-62 with under two minutes to go, when Mount guard Khalid Nwandu drove in for a layup, but missed. However, Graves followed it up by catching the ball of the rim in mid-air and slamming it down with two hands emphatically to help the Mountaineers close out the victory.


Mount St. Mary's hasn't had a winning streak since mid-January, alternating wins and losses for its last nine games. But Saturday's win over second-place Bryant moves the Mountaineers into a tie for fourth place in the NEC. They'll look to string together some wins in the final four regular-season games to help their seeding as they go after an NEC Tournament title repeat.

"With such a young group, we haven't responded to the victory of a Saturday win very well yet," Christian said. "My challenge to them before I left the locker room today was, 'Let's not get too high or low with this win, let's stay where we need to be at and understand we've got a lot of work ahead of us.'"

Reach staff writer Jake Rill at 410-857-7875 or