Coach: Great to see their smiles after a victory
Jamion Christian, head coach for Mount St. Mary's
WASHINGTON - After battling to win the Northeast Conference championship this week, Mount St. Mary's is ready to take on the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008.
The fourth-seeded team beat first seed Robert Morris 88-71 Tuesday night in Western Pennsylvania.
"We played better than they did last night and walked out with a championship," head coach Jamion Christian tells WTOP.
Just to get to the championship, the Mountaineers had to come back from a 19-point deficit and hit a buzzer-shot to beat St. Francis, then traveled to Wagner to play the second-seeded team.
"Our guys didn't fold, not one second. They didn't blink. Because of that, we were able to stretch our leads out," Christian says.
The Mountaineers potentially could be the only team from Maryland represented in the tournament, which begins March 18. Bubble team Maryland must first get through the upcoming ACC Tournament.
The team's 16-16 record reflects non-conference games against teams like West Virginia and No. 4 ranked Villanova.
"We wanted to challenge ourselves," Christian says. So the team has hit the road to play powerhouse schools like Brigham Young, Michigan State and Indiana - experience that has helped the Mountaineers win in March, he says.
And Christian plans to keep the wins coming next week.
"We've played teams of this caliber. We understand the challenge ahead of us. But we understand that we have enough talent, and if we stick together and do the things that we do well, then we can play with anyone," he says.
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