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#13 Albertus Advances to Round #2! Win 68-66 over WPI

Photo by Ron Waite

The #13 Albertus Magnus men's basketball team will advance to the NCAA Tournament second round after a 68-66 win over #14 WPI on Friday night at Purchase College. The Falcons will play on Saturday, March 8 at 7:00 p.m. and will take on the winner of tonight's #15 Purchase vs. Hartwick match-up.

Eian Davis (Brookyln, N.Y.) led the Falcons with 22 points and six assists as Albertus improved to 27-2 on the year with the victory. WPI finishes its season 22-5 overall. Tonight was the first meeting between the two programs, excluding preseason scrimmages.

The Falcons, who played in their sixth NCAA Tournament game, are now 3-3 in NCAA postseason play and have won three of its four all-time NCAA Tournament first round games.

Albertus began the game with a 4-0 run before two 3-pointers by Sam Longwell tied the contest at six 2:30 into the contest.  WPI took a 10-6 lead on three-straight buckets before the Falcons took back the lead on two-straight three-pointers by Darius Watson (New Britain, Conn.) at the 15-minutes mark.

The Falcons extended their lead to 18-11 before the Falcons pushed out to a 10-point lead at 29-19 with 9:15 to go in the frame.  WPI battled back, cutting the Falcons' lead to two at 29-27 with 6:43 on the clock and then tied the score on two free throws from Matt Harrington less than two minutes later.

WPI took a 34-29 lead thanks to a 15-0 run with 3:36 left before intermission.  Lemar Larsen (Waterbury, Conn.) broke the shutout run with a jumper in the paint to cut the Engineers' lead to three at 34-31.

WPI led 36-34 at the break as Watson led all scorers with 14 points. He shot 5-of-9 from the field in the frame, including a 4-of-4 clip from behind the arc.

Out of the break, the Falcons pushed out to a 43-41 lead capped by a free throw from Eian Davis (Brooklyn, N.Y.).  Free throws extended the Falcons lead to 48-41 but a blocked shot on the defensive end followed by a fast break lay-up for the Engineers tied the contest at 48 with 10:41 to go.

Play went back-and-forth for the final 10 minutes of regulation.  Davis gave Albertus a 59-58 lead with 3:49 left before a layup by the junior put the Falcons ahead by three.  A Victor Ljuljdjuraj (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.) jumper in the paint gave Albertus a five-point lead with under a minute to go.

A pair of free throws by Watson with two seconds left on the clock sealed the victory for the Falcons to make it a two possession game.  WPI's Aaron Davis hit a long three pointer at the buzzer to make the score 68-66 but the Falcons walked away with the victory.

Watson, who led all scorers with his 14 first-half points, finished with 18 after just one field goal in the second half. He now has 2,119 career points and is 115 points away from Tim Russell (2001-05)'s career tally of 2,234 and 197 away from Ray Askew's career total of 2,316. Watson's MVP honor is the second-straight of his career as well.

Ljuljdjuraj finished the night with a double-double as he tallied 14 points and 11 rebounds. The Falcons shot 46.4% from the floor on the night, while WPI shot 46.2%.