Mount St. Mary’s stuns Bryant 73-68 to clinch NCAA bid

Mount St. Mary's forward Nana Opoku, right, and Bryant forward Hall Elisias compete for a rebound during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game for the Northeast Conference men's tournament championship Tuesday, March 9, 2021, in Smithfield, R.I.
Mount St. Mary's guard Damian Chong Qui (15) shoots as he threads between Bryant guards Chris Childs (30) and Michael Green III (3) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game for the Northeast Conference men's tournament championship Tuesday, March 9, 2021, in Smithfield, R.I.
APTOPIX_NEC_Championship_Basketball_73711 Mount St. Mary's guard Damian Chong Qui (15) hoists the trophy as he celebrates with teammates after their win in an NCAA college basketball game for the Northeast Conference men's tournament championship against Bryant, Tuesday, March 9, 2021, in Smithfield, R.I.
Mount St. Mary's guard Damian Chong Qui (15) runs toward his bench while celebrating with teammates after their win in an NCAA college basketball game for the Northeast Conference men's tournament championship against Bryant, Tuesday, March 9, 2021, in Smithfield, R.I.
Mount St. Mary's forward Nana Opoku (22) tries to block Bryant guard Luis Hurtado (10) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game for the Northeast Conference men's tournament championship Tuesday, March 9, 2021, in Smithfield, R.I.
Mount St. Mary's guard Damian Chong Qui (15) drives to the basket against Bryant forward Hall Elisias (34) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game for the Northeast Conference men's tournament championship Tuesday, March 9, 2021, in Smithfield, R.I.
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SMITHFIELD, R.I. (AP) — Damian Chong Qui scored 21 points and Malik Jefferson scored 10 with 15 rebounds and Mount St. Mary’s stunned Bryant 73-68 on Tuesday night in the Northeast Conference tournament championship game and clinched an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.

It’s Mount St. Mary’s (12-10) sixth trip to the NCAA Tournament. Bryant (15-6), which entered Tuesday’s game undefeated at home this season, has yet to make an appearance in the big dance.

The Mount was NEC’s No. 4 seed and Bryant was second seeded.

Chong Qui scored nine straight points, but despite that, Bryant cut into the Mountaineers lead and drew to within 54-53 on Charles Pride’s layup with 7:20 left. Mount St. Mary’s proceeded to go on an 11-2 run for a 10-point advantage with 3:27 left. Pride later buried consecutive 3-pointers, and his layup with 18 seconds left reduced Bryant’s deficit to 70-68. But Nana Opoku, a 45% foul shooter on the season, calmly sank a pair and sealed the Bulldog’s fate.

Opoku scored 18 points and Mezie Offurum 16 for the Mountaineers.

Pride scored a career-high 33 points and finished a point away from scoring half of Bryant’s 68 points. He made 8-of-12 3s but the rest of the team went 0 for 13 from beyond the arc. Peter Kiss scored 12 for Bryant.

The game marked Mount St. Mary’s eighth appearance in the NEC championship game since joining the league in 1989-90. Mount St. Mary’s won the championship game in 1995, 1999, 2008, 2014 and 2017.

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