Mount St. Mary’s had a losing record Tuesday night entering the Northeast Conference tournament final. Now it’s heading to the NCAA tournament.
After running away with an 88-71 victory over Robert Morris, the Mountaineers improved to .500 and will play in the NCAA tournament next week for the fourth time in their history and the first time since 2008.
It’s quite an accomplishment for coach Jamion Christian, the fifth youngest coach in Division I college basketball who is in his second year in the job. While it’s extremely unlikely the Mountaineers will advance in the tournament – no No. 16 seed ever has – Christian knows a thing or two about what it takes.
Christian coached at Virginia Commonwealth under Shaka Smart in 2011-12 when the Rams advanced to the third round of the NCAA tournament. Christian coaches a style similar to Smart’s system at VCU, playing pressure defense and relying on 3-pointers.
The Mountaineers made 60 percent of their shots, including eight of 18 3-pointers in the championship game Tuesday. Senior guard Rashad Whack scored 20 points to lead the way.
Mount St. Mary’s led by 16 at halftime and played the entire second half with a comfortable advantage. The Mountaineers are 1-3 in the NCAA tournament with a victory over Coppin State in a 2008 play-in game.
They lost to Kentucky, Michigan State and North Carolina in their other three games are likely face another perennial power this year.
- - - - - - -