Mount St. Mary’s stuns Bryant 73-68 to clinch NCAA bid

SMITHFIELD, R.I. (AP) — Damian Chong Qui scored 21 points and Malik Jefferson scored 10 with 15 rebounds and Mount St. Mary’s stunned Bryant 73-68 on Tuesday night in the Northeast Conference tournament championship game and clinched an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.

It’s Mount St. Mary’s (12-10) sixth trip to the NCAA Tournament. Bryant (15-6), which entered Tuesday’s game undefeated at home this season, has yet to make an appearance in the big dance.

The Mount was NEC’s No. 4 seed and Bryant was second seeded.

Chong Qui scored nine straight points, but despite that, Bryant cut into the Mountaineers lead and drew to within 54-53 on Charles Pride’s layup with 7:20 left. Mount St. Mary’s proceeded to go on an 11-2 run for a 10-point advantage with 3:27 left. Pride later buried consecutive 3-pointers, and his layup with 18 seconds left reduced Bryant’s deficit to 70-68. But Nana Opoku, a 45% foul shooter on the season, calmly sank a pair and sealed the Bulldog’s fate.

Opoku scored 18 points and Mezie Offurum 16 for the Mountaineers.

Pride scored a career-high 33 points and finished a point away from scoring half of Bryant’s 68 points. He made 8-of-12 3s but the rest of the team went 0 for 13 from beyond the arc. Peter Kiss scored 12 for Bryant.

The game marked Mount St. Mary’s eighth appearance in the NEC championship game since joining the league in 1989-90. Mount St. Mary’s won the championship game in 1995, 1999, 2008, 2014 and 2017.

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