- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 18, 2014

DAYTON, Ohio — D.J. Evans is charitably listed at 5-foot-9. His coach and teammates tease him that he looks a foot shorter.

Yet he stood awfully tall for Albany on Tuesday night.


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Evans scored 22 points, including two clinching free throws with 12.6 seconds left, to lead the Great Danes to their first NCAA tournament victory, 71-64 over Mount St. Mary’s in the First Four.

Evans, an often overlooked component in Albany’s lineup, belied his height with nine rebounds to go with three assists.

“He’s about 4-foot-8, so he’s really impressive,” laughed his running mate at guard, Peter Hooley, who had 20 points. “I don’t think there’s another 4-8 guard who could go in there and get that many boards. He did what he needed to do to get this win.”

It was a signature victory for the America East Conference tournament champs, who had come up empty in three previous trips to the big dance.

“It means a lot,” said an emotional coach Will Brown. “There’s no better feeling. Like I told our kids, we’re going to be in the history books at the University of Albany forever.”

The Great Danes (19-14) advance to meet overall No. 1 seed and top-ranked Florida on Thursday in Orlando. But that was a concern for another day.

It was a wild game of incredible turnarounds, with the Great Danes bolting to leads of 13-0 and 21-2, only to have The Mount (16-17) bounce back with a 21-2 run of its own to pull even.

Hooley, one of three Australians on the Albany roster, hit two free throws with 2:43 remaining to stretch the lead to 65-62. After Julian Norfleet countered with a bucket, Hooley again pounded his way to the basket and lofted a shot over a defender for a 67-64 lead at the 2-minute mark.

It stayed that way with the teams missing big shots. Rashad Whack and Norfleet each missed potential tying 3s — Whack’s rolled almost inside the rim and then bounded away.

“When it hit the rim, I thought it was going to go in,” Whack said softly.

Evans was fouled with 12.6 seconds left and hit both shots to increase the lead to five points — and out of reach of another long-range shot.

Evans was most proud of his rebounding.

“They shot a lot of 3s and there were a lot of long rebounds,” he said with a grin. “I was just at the right place at the right time.”

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