Despite 29 points from junior Darius Watson (New Britain, Conn.), the Albertus Magnus men's basketball team fell to Alvernia University 97-78 in NCAA Tournament First Round action on Saturday night.
Watson shot 13-of-27 from the floor in the Falcons' third-ever NCAA Tournament appearance as he added five rebounds on the night as well.
With the loss, the Falcons finish the 2012-13 season with a 24-5 overall record. Alvernia advances to the next round of the tournament with a 24-4 record on the year and will play on Saturday, March 9.
After the Falcons opened the contest with the first bucket of the game, Alvernia went on a 10-2 run to take a 10-4 lead five minutes into the frame. The Falcons battled back to within three at 11-8 before trading baskets with the Crusaders until tying the game at 21 on a Mike Sweeney (Milford, Conn.) three-pointer midway through the half.
The Falcons knotted the score at 26 apiece on a James Jennings (Stratford, Conn.) three-pointer. Alvernia finished out the frame on a 15-4 run as Arshad Jackson (Hartford, Conn.) knocked down a three-pointer at the buzzer. The Crusaders went into the break with a 51-33 lead and held the Falcons without a field goal for the final five minutes of the frame until Jackson's buzzer beater.
The Crusaders hit 19-of-21 free-throws in the opening frame, including their final 17 attempts of the half.
Albertus shot 40.0% (14-of-35) from the floor in the half led by 16 points from Watson and five from Jackson. Alvernia shot 51.7%, a 15-of-29 clip from the field, as Terrance Bridgers tallied 16 first-half points and Lamont Clark added 10.
Baskets were traded to open the second half as the Falcons were able to cut the Alvernia lead to 12 with less than six minutes on the clock as Watson connected on a layup. The Crusaders extended their lead back out to 17 with 4:36 left in regulation but could not get any closer.
The Crusaders, who are No. 1 in the Mid-Atlantic Region, shot 53.8% from the field in the second half as they finished the night shooting 52.7%. Alvernia also shot 79.5% from the free-throw line, hitting 35 of its 44 attempts.
Jennings finished the night with 13 points for the Falcons as he hit four three-pointers in the contest with three coming in the second-half. Jackson added 10 points, while Jefferson Lora (Bronx, N.Y.) contributed nine points and 10 rebounds. With his 29-point effort, Watson now has 1,511 points in his career.