EMMITSBURG, Md. (WDVM) – Mount St. Mary’s fell in its final home game of the regular season 66-61 to Long Island University on Saturday, and so, dropping its home record to 1-3 in the month of February.
“We gotta do a better job of protecting our building,” said Mount head coach Dan Engelstad. “LIU is playing really well right now. It’s a team that’s hot, and we knew that we would have to play really good basketball to [win.]”
Mount had more turnovers than points in the opening three and half minutes of the game with a turnover-to-points ratio of 4-to-2, and ultimately finished the first half with 14 total turnovers that the Sharks converted for 18 points.
“It’s not a recipe for success turning it over as many times as we did, especially in the first half. We settled in in the second half, and didn’t turn it over as quite as much, and we had a couple of shots that, if they go in, the whole game kind of changes.”
Mount found a spark late in the first half, going on a 10-to-0 run, that brought the Mountaineers within one (23-22) with 5:24 left on the clock, but the Sharks would regain momentum, closing out the half on a 10-to-4 run to lead 33-26 at halftime.
The Mountaineers would open up the second half with another run, outscoring the Sharks 10-to-2, and would take the lead four minutes in when sophomore guard, Dakota Leffew, brought down a defensive rebound and aired it up the court to senior forward, Mezie Offurum, who slammed it for a 36-35 lead.
Mount would hold the lead for the next five minutes, until LIU’s Tre Wood converted on a Mount turnover with a pull up jump shot at the other end, giving the Sharks a 42-40 lead with 11:02 left to play – a lead that would not be surrendered the rest of the game.
Hope was not all lost though, as Mount tried to make one last push that started with freshman guard, Jaylin Gibson, driving the lane for a layup to bring the game within 10 (60-50) with 3:40 left to play.
Mount finished the game on a 11-to-4 run but ultimately fell short 66-61 to the Sharks.
Jalen Benjamin returned to the lineup on Saturday after missing the previous game with a sprained knee. The junior guard was Mount’s leading scorer on Saturday with 13 points and four assists.
“[I] felt good,” said Benjamin. “I just wanted to be out there with my teammates. Basketball is my life, and just being out there with them and fighting with them, that’s all I could ask for.”
Nana Opoku was Mount’s second leading scorer with 12 points, and seven rebounds. Mezie Offurum added 11 points and was the game’s leading rebounder with LIU’s Eral Penn, with each bringing down eight boards.
Opoku and Offurum, along with Malik Jefferson, who missed another game due to injury, were all recognized on Saturday in what was Mount’s Senior Day.
The Mount will be either the No. 4 or the No. 5 seed in the upcoming Northeast Conference Tournament. Mount St. Mary’s currently holds the No. 4 position, one game ahead of St. Francis Brooklyn, and has a magic number of two with two games remaining to clinch that spot.
Mount St. Mary’s will play its last two games on the road at Sacred Heart on Thursday, February 24, at 7:00 p.m. before playing the final regular season game at Central Connecticut for a 1:00 p.m. game on Sunday, February 26.