The #13 Albertus Magnus men's basketball team will advance to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 for the first time in school history as the Falcons defeated #15 Purchase College 87-79 in second round action on Saturday night in Purchase, N.Y.
The victory marked the second in two days for the Falcons over a ranked opponent as Albertus defeated #14 WPI on Friday night in first-round action.
Albertus will face Williams College on Friday, March 14 in the Sweet 16. Williams downed Gordon College to advance in tournament play as well. Time and location of the contest are to be determined.
The Falcons are now 28-2 on the year to tie the program's record in wins in a single-season.
Darius Watson (New Britain, Conn.) led all scorers with 26 points in 40 minutes of work as he added eight rebounds. Victor Ljuljdjuraj (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.), who posted a double-double with his first-half points alone, finished the night with 24 points and an impressive 17 rebounds. James Jennings (Bridgeport, Conn.) added 15 points for the Falcons.
The Falcons are 2-0 against Purchase after tonight's victory. They defeated the Panthers on Jan. 27 in New Haven 87-79, the same score as tonight's contest.
The Falcons, who played in their seventh NCAA Tournament game, are now 4-3 in NCAA postseason play and win a second-round NCAA tournament game for the first time in program history.
Albertus opened tonight's contest with a 5-0 run before extending that lead to 7-2 on a Lemar Larsen (Waterbury, Conn.) lay-in. Purchase battled back to tie the game at nine 4 minutes into play on a Justin Person free throw.
Play continued back-and-forth throughout the first half as there were five tied scores and eight lead changes in the opening 20 minutes of play.
Ljuljdjuraj led all scorers with 14 points and 11 rebounds in the first half of play. He shot 5-of-8 from the floor and 4-of-6 from the charity stripe.
Albertus led by as many as 13 points in the second half thanks to a three pointer from Watson with 6:25 to go as stellar ball movement found the senior wide open from behind the arc.
Purchase cut the lead to five with 1:52 left on the clock before the Falcons matched the Panthers' point tally to keep their lead to at least six to eight points. Final second free throws secured the victory for the Falcons as they pulled away with the eight-point victory.
Watson now has 2,145 career points and is 89 points away from Tim Russell (2001-05)'s career tally of 2,234 and 171 away from Ray Askew's career total of 2,316. Watson's MVP honor is the second-straight of his career as well.