BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (Nov. 20, 2019) - Mount St. Mary's men's basketball battled in a tightly contested grudge match at Bartow Arena against the UAB Blazers. But it was UAB who pulled away in the final moments, handing the Mountaineers a 58-51 defeat Tuesday.
In his return to the hardwood, Jalen Gibbs led the Mount (1-4) and the game with 15 points over 39 minutes. Malik Jefferson earned a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds, and Nana Opoku added 13 points. Damian Chong Qui tied Gibbs with seven points in the second half.
UAB (3-1) was led by Jalen Benjamin with 14 point and nine rebounds from Will Butler. The Blazers benefited from 18 offensive rebounds, and 12-of-14 from the free throw line, compared to just 1-of-1 for the Mount.
The trio of Opoku, Gibbs and Jefferson accounted for all of the Mount's points in the first half. Opoku led with 11, including a pair of treys to kick off the scoring, and a tip-in that pulled the visitors within one possession at the break. Both teams started out cold with a combined 0-12 at the first media timeout. UAB started with a 6-0 run before Opoku answered with a triple. Another three pointer by Nana gave the Mountaineers their first lead, and the teams traded back and forth from there. A 6-0 Blazer run towards the end of the half assured the home side of the halftime advantage.
Mount St. Mary's opened the second frame on a 6-0 run, but offensive rebounds for UAB allowed plenty of second chances for the Blazers and prevented any chance for a runaway. Nevertheless, a Chong Qui three pushed the Mount lead to 43-39 with just over nine minutes left. That would be as high as that edge would go, and a 10-0 UAB run forced a Mountianeer timeout. Chong Qui made another push which forced a tie at 51-51 with 3:13 remaining. A couple opportunities to retake the lead fell short, and a contested three from the Blazers' Jalen Benjamin puts UAB up for good.
The Mountaineers head to Rupp Arena Friday (Nov. 22) to face the Kentucky Wildcats.