DAYTON, Ohio — Senior guard D.J. Evans scored 22 points, sophomore guard Peter Hooley added 20 points, and Albany held off Mount St. Mary’s 71-64 in a first-round NCAA tournament game between two No. 16 seeds on Tuesday at the University of Dayton Arena.
Albany (19-14) advances to face No. 1 overall seed Florida (32-2) on Thursday in Orlando, Fla.
Freshman forward Will Miller went 7-for-12 from 3-point range and scored 21 points to lead Mount St. Mary’s, which rallied from a 19-point, first-half deficit.
Mountaineers guard Rashad Whack, who finished with 16 points, had a potential game-tying 3-pointer rim out with 36 seconds left. He had another opportunity to tie the score, but his shot caromed off the rim with 16 seconds remaining.
It was indicative of the evening for the Mountaineers, who finished 12-for-37 from 3-point range.
Mount Saint Mary’s, which ranked 10th in the nation in 3-pointers per game, started Tuesday’s game 0-for-8 from beyond the arc. However, the Mountaineers (16-17) finished the first half 7-for-12 from 3-point range to spark their comeback.
Hooley’s layup off an inbounds pass put the Great Danes ahead 51-46.
A dunk by center John Puk gave Albany a 63-56 lead.
Miller hit back to back 3-pointers to make it a one-point game with 3:22 left, but Albany hung on for the victory. The Great Danes outrebounded the Mountaineers 42-23.
It took some time for Mount St. Mary’s to settle into the environment at UD Arena.
A 3-pointer by Evans put Albany ahead 7-0. The lead grew to 13-0 with 13:31 left in the first half, prompting a timeout by Mount St. Mary’s.
The Mountaineers began the game 0-for-12 from the field and did not score their first basket until 13:17 remained in the first half.
Hooley, Albany’s leading scorer, was scoreless for the first nine minutes before his running layup made it 21-2.
At that point, the Mount St. Mary’s offense woke up.
Miller hit two 3-pointers during an 18-0 run to get Mount St. Mary’s back in the game. Mountaineers guard Sam Prescott (14 points) hit a 3-pointer to tie the score 23-23.
Evans paced all scorers with 13 first-half points.
Albany led 35-31 at halftime.
NOTES: Both teams made their fourth NCAA Tournament appearance. … Mount St. Mary’s, which began the season 0-5, played a formidable schedule, including Michigan State, Villanova, Brigham Young, Penn State, West Virginia and Texas Tech. … Albany has four native Australians on their roster, including leading scorer Peter Hooley. … The Great Danes won the first two meetings in the series, including a 65-64 victory on Dec. 31, 2011.