Northeast Conference championship game: Mount St. Mary's stuns Bryant to reach NCAA Tournament
Photo: Mount St. Mary's athletics

Mount St. Mary's is going to the NCAA Tournament for the sixth time in program history after upsetting Bryant 73-68 in the Northeast Conference championship game.

The fourth-seeded Mountaineers (12-10) were led by Damian Chong Qui, who had 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Tournament MVP Nana Opoku chipped in with 18 points, seven rebounds and five blocked shots.

Charles Pride led the second-seeded Bulldogs (15-6) with 33 points, including eight three-pointers as Bryant fell one win short of the program's first-ever NCAA bid. Peter Kiss had a double-double, scoring 12 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.

Mount St. Mary's outrebounded Bryant 46-34 and held the Bulldogs to 38.5 percent shooting from the field as the Mountaineers won the NEC Tournament for the third time as the fourth seed.

The Mount rides hot hand of Chong Qui, Opoku to NCAA berth

Bryant led 8-4 at the first media timeout, but a Deandre Thomas three-pointer midway through the first half gave Mount St. Mary's a 15-12 advantage, a lead it would not relinquish the rest of the way.  The Mountaineers led by as much as eight points in the first half before settling for a 34-29 lead at the break.

Mount St. Mary's took its biggest lead of the game at 51-40 with 10:43 remaining in the game. The Bulldogs fought back, cutting the Mountaineers advantage to 54-53 on a basket by Pride with 7:18 left to play. Bryant had a chance to take the lead, but Kiss was off the mark on a three-point attempt in transition, and Chong Qui converted four straight free throws to push the Mount lead back to five. 

Mount St. Mary's Damian Chong Qui drives past Bryant's Hall Elisias during the NEC Championship Game/Photo: Greenville Online

After a Bryant bucket, Chong Qui nailed a three-pointer, Malik Jefferson hit a pair of free throws, and Opoku hit a hook shot in the lane to push the advantage 65-55 with 3:22 left.

Bryant did not go away behind the hot shooting of Pride, who drained a pair of late three-pointers, the second making it a 67-64 game with just under a minute left. Mezie Offurum was fouled on the ensuing possession, and he hit both to stretch the lead back to five.

The Bulldogs were able to whittle the deficit to 70-68 with 16 seconds left on a Pride drive to the basket, but Opoku stepped up to hit two clutch free throws with 15 seconds left and the Mount was able to secure the 73-68 win.