- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 19, 2008

DAYTON, Ohio — It might not be just like the players dreamed it, but the Mount St. Mary’s men’s basketball team won an NCAA tournament game.

Jeremy Goode scored a game-high 21 points as the Mountaineers, third-time tournament participants, surged late in the second half to beat Coppin State 69-60 in the opening round before 8,464 last night at UD Arena.

The loss ended the surprising late-season run by Coppin State (16-21), the first 20-loss team in tournament history, and moved Mount St. Mary’s into the bracket’s No. 16 seed and a first-round matchup with No. 1 North Carolina on Friday in Raleigh, N.C. The matchup will pit Goode, the sophomore from Charlotte, N.C., against the team for which he dreamed of playing.

“It’s like, ‘Hey, I envisioned myself playing for you as a kid,’ ” said Goode, who shot 5-for-10 from the field and 9-for-11 from the line.

Not many envision themselves appearing in the “play-in” game, created in 2002 in response to the formation of the Mountain West Conference. Goode said Monday the game shouldn’t even exist.

Mount St. Mary’s guard Chris Vann disagreed, saying, “We definitely felt we were in the tournament. It is the play-in game, but we’re still part of the tournament.”

Now there’s no question about it.

Both teams entered after significant rallies during their seasons, although Coppin State’s climb was more impressive, going from 4-19 to winning the MEAC tournament with four victories by a combined six points. Mount St. Mary’s was just 10-13 before winning eight of its final nine games, including the Northeast Conference tournament.

Coppin State gained control early, taking a 21-14 lead with 9:14 left in the first half as Mount St. Mary’s struggled from the field.

“I thought we would come out a little bit rusty and a little apprehensive in the first half because we hadn’t played a game in six days,” Mountaineers coach Milan Brown said.

With 5:11 left, guard Tywain McKee, who led the Eagles with 15 points, dribbled up the right side and tossed an alley-oop pass over the basket to A’Daeron Duncan, who grabbed it and dunked. Duncan hung on the rim briefly as he swung around and was called for a technical foul.

Jean Cajou made both free throws — the Mountaineers were 26-for-32 in the game — to spark a 13-5 run to close the half. They trailed just 34-33 at the break.

Mount St. Mary’s took its first lead at 36-34 when Will Holland hit a 3-pointer just 16 seconds into the second half. The teams stayed close until the Mountaineers used a 9-0 run to make it 53-44 with 9:21 left.

“I preach all the time about playing 40 minutes and being consistent with your play,” Coppin State coach Ron “Fang” Mitchell said.

In the half, the Eagles shot just 9-for-27 and gave the Mountaineers 26 free throw attempts. Mount St. Mary’s hit 21 as it turned a 57-55 advantage with 6:55 left into a nine-point victory.

“It was just relief,” said Mount St. Mary’s forward Kelly Beidler, who had seven points and 15 rebounds. “We punched that 9-to-5. That was our job. To know we did our job successfully and got a win, that feels good to say we won an NCAA tournament game.”

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