The Albany Great Danes took a 19-point lead early in the first half and eventually held on to defeat the Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers, 71-64, in the opening game of the 2014 NCAA Tournament on Tuesday.
Albany looked unstoppable during the first nine minutes of the contest, jumping out to a 21-2 lead by hitting nine of its first 14 shots. However, Mount St. Mary's used a barrage of three-point baskets to embark on a 21-2 run of its own and tie the game six minutes later.
The three-pointers never really stopped for the Mountaineers, but Albany used an efficient two-point approach and a large advantage in rebounding to fend them off, despite committing 14 turnovers. Led by Will Miller, who drained seven threes, Mount St. Mary's made 12 shots from long distance but made only 36.7 percent of their overall field goal attempts. Meanwhile, the Great Danes shot 57.4 percent from the floor and out-rebounded the Mountaineers, 42-23.
Even with the lopsided numbers in those categories, Mount St. Mary's had a chance to tie the game on two different occasions with less than a minute remaining. Rashad Whack, who finished with 16 points, had a wide-open look at a three with 39 seconds left, but the shot touched every part of the rim instead of going in.
Seconds later, Albany's Peter Hooley missed the front end of a one-and-one, but Julian Norfleet was unable to hit the equalizer for the Mountaineers at the other end. DJ Evans, who led all scorers with 22 points, made up for Hooley's miss by hitting both of his foul shots to extend the Great Danes' lead to two possessions and effectively seal the victory.
Hooley added 20 points for Albany, while Miller paced the Mountaineers with 21.
The Great Danes will face South Region No. 1 seed Florida in the second round on Thursday.