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Albany advances to NCAA second round

Dayton, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - D.J. Evans tied career highs with 22 points and nine rebounds to lead Albany to its first-ever NCAA Tournament win, a 71-64 decision over Mount St. Mary's in a First Four matchup.

Peter Hooley added 20 points to help the 16th-seeded Great Danes (19-14) earn a trip to Orlando to take on No. 1 overall seed Florida in Thursday's second round.

Albany, the America East Tournament champions, shot 57.4 percent from the field en route to its seventh victory in eight games, with Gary Johnson hitting 6-of-8 attempts in a 13-point, seven-rebound effort.

Mount St. Mary's (16-17), the surprise winner of the Northeast Conference Tournament, nearly overcame a 19-point deficit midway through the first half behind Will Miller's career-best 21 points on a 7-of-12 performance from 3- point range.

Rashad Whack finished with 16 points and Sam Prescott had 14 for the Mountaineers.

Mount St. Mary's bounced back from an awful start to the official lid-lifter of this year's NCAA Tournament to grab a 45-41 lead with 14 minutes left, but the Great Danes countered with a 13-3 run to surge back ahead and held on the rest of the way.

Evans netted the first five points of the pivotal flurry and Hooley dropped in seven during the sequence, which he capped with a beyond-the-arc basket for a 54-48 Albany edge with 9:09 remaining.

Miller's sharp shooting kept the Mount within striking distance, with the freshman burying threes on back-to-back possessions that cut the margin to 63-62 with 3:33 to go.

"We felt Will was going to have a huge game for us," said Mountaineers head coach Jamion Christian. "He's been a kid all year long playing on big stages, against big teams, he's made a lot of three's. And we knew he was capable of getting hot. I believe in his career someday he'll hit 10 of these. I thought that might have been tonight."

After a brief exchange of baskets, Hooley drove strong to knock in a shot off the glass that put Albany up 67-64 with just under two minutes left. The Mountaineers then came up empty on their next three trips down the court before Evans' two free throws sealed the outcome with 12.6 seconds showing.

"I'm proud of my guys. I thought we handled adversity well tonight," said Albany head coach Will Brown. "I thought we weathered the storm, we stayed the course, and we made plays down the stretch. We finished."

An exciting first half was highlighted by a pair of huge momentum swings. Mount St. Mary's showed some nerves early on, missing its first 11 field goal attempts as Albany roared out to a 21-2 lead with 11 1/2 minutes in the period, then regained its shooting stroke to put up the next 18 points and get right back in it.

Albany went scoreless for more than 5 1/2 minutes and committed four turnovers during the Mount's game-changing surge, which featured a trio of 3-pointers from Miller -- with the last pulling Mount St. Mary's within 21-20 with 6:33 left in the half.

"We're the only game on national television, so we wanted to keep the viewers interested," Brown joked.

A trey by Whack 15 minutes in gave the Mountaineers their first lead of the night at 26-25, and they were ahead by two prior to Albany's 6-0 spurt to end the frame. After a Hooley layup with 39 seconds to go snapped a 31-31 tie, Whack misfired while throwing up a quick 3-point try and Evans drove the length of the court to knock down a baseline runner that sent the Great Danes into the break up by four.

Mount St. Mary's came out strong following the intermission, however, putting forth a 14-4 push during the initial stages of the second half to move in front. Miller's fourth 3-pointer of the evening gave the Mount a 40-39 lead, which was later extended to 45-41 on Prescott's transition layup off an Albany giveaway with 14:06 to play.

Game Notes

Mount St. Mary's went 12-of-37 on 3-point tries but shot just 36.7 percent (22-of-60) overall ... Albany had been 0-3 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, including a 73-61 setback to Duke as a No. 15 seed in last year's event ... The Great Danes outrebounded the Mount by a 42-23 margin and recorded a 38-18 advantage in points in the paint ... Mount St. Mary's tallied 14 points off 14 Albany turnovers ... Miller's previous high was 15 points, which he last attained while hitting five threes at Norfolk State on Jan. 3 ... The Mountaineers fell to 1-4 in NCAA tourney games, with the lone win coming over Coppin State in the 2008 Opening Round.

03/18 23:09:26 ET