Mount St. Mary’s hangs with No. 13 Kentucky in first half, but falls 80-55

Mount Basketball

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDVM) – Mount St. Mary’s fell to the 13th ranked Kentucky Wildcats 80-55 on Tuesday, after keeping it close in the first half.

“[It was] by far the best half that we played,” said Mount head coach Dan Engelstad. “It was a connected half. I thought we played really hard. We missed a couple that I thought we could have finished, but we looked more of the mold that we expected to look like.”

Mount jumped out to a surprising 7-4 lead, but the Wildcats would get their footing to close out the first half on a 9-2 run that put them up 38-27 at the break.

“The vibe [for us] was better from the jump. I thought our preparation was better going into this game and we took a step forward.”

Kentucky opened up the second half with a 13-0 run that put them up 51-27, a defensive lag for the Mountaineers to start the half that they wouldn’t be able to recover from.

“First half, good. The beginning of the second half is not going to get it done,” said Engelstad. “I thought we got stops a few times and then couldn’t come up with the rebounds. We just couldn’t come up with some of those after-stops, some of those rebound baskets, and that’s just another gear that our team has to get to.”

Kentucky out-rebounded Mount 41-27, and scored 16 points off of second chances.

“Granted it’s one of the best offensive rebounders that we’ll ever see,” remarked Engelstad. “I think Oscar is one of college basketball’s best rebounders, and he might go down in basketball history as one of the best rebounders.”

Oscar Tshiebwe, who came into Tuesday’s contest as the nation’s leading rebounder, averaging 20 rebounds per game, brought down 16 of them against the Mount and had 24 points to complete his third straight double-double this season.

The Mountaineers were lead by Sophomore guard Josh Reaves and Junior point guard Jalen Benjamin who each had 11 points. Dakota Leffew was also in double digit scoring for the Mount with 10 points.

“Probably out of all the games we played, there were signs [in this game] that this could be a really good basketball team,” said Engelstad. “We’re not taking any moral victories, but there definitely was some marked improvement.”

Mount will play it’s second of a three-game road trip this Friday against former Northeast Conference rival Robert Morris. Tip off for that game is set for 7:00 p.m. in Pittsburgh.

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