Men’s Basketball Drops 67-66 Decision In 2017 NCAA First Four

Courtesy of UNO Athletics

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On Tuesday afternoon, the clock struck midnight on the University of New Orleans men’s basketball team as the Privateers dropped a 67-66 contest to Mount St. Mary’s in the 2017 NCAA First Four in University of Dayton Arena.


The Privateers may have come one point shy of writing the next chapter in their success story, but the overall attitude of the team after the game was somber yet hopeful as a foundation has been laid that will no doubt allow bigger and better to be built upon it.


“I can’t be more proud of where our program has come in a short time,” Slessinger said. “To be able to go through the adversity we’ve been through is 100 percent credit to our student-athletes, to their commitment to the university, their commitment to our city and their commitment to each other.


New Orleans concludes the year 20-12 overall.


“We started the engine on the car, now the car is moving,” Frye said. “We’ve got to pick up speed and keep building off what we did this year and I, personally, would say I’m proud of what we accomplished as well. We established the building blocks of what was broken down from Katrina and I know Coach Slessinger will do everything to keep it going, keep it building and the guys will be eager to step up.


“Some had to wait their time. But now they’ve seen and hopefully they’ve learned from what we’ve done, throw out the bad and kept the good, and can keep this program going in the direction that it should go. I’m upset about the loss. I wanted to play Villanova so, so, so bad. Things happen for a reason and I think New Orleans is going to be good. Just watch out for us.”


As a team, the Privateers shot 53.7 percent from the field (29-of-54), including a 16-of-24 showing in the second half (.667), and led in virtually every statistical category. UNO had 29 field goals to Mount St. Mary’s 25, held a 28-25 rebounding advantage and posted 10 steals to the Mountaineers’ six. In addition, New Orleans outscored Mount St. Mary’s in the paint 42-22, scored 24 points off 16 turnovers to its opponent’s 19 off 14 miscues, held an 18-3 edge in fast-break points and the reserves outscored their counterparts 27-12.


The difference in the game came from beyond the 3-point arc as The Mount connected on 10-of-19 shots from downtown (.526) to UNO’s 1-of-9 showing (.111). Mount St. Mary’s 14 assists were two more than the Privateers’ tally and committed five fewer personal fouls than New Orleans’ 18.


Frye led three Privateers in double figures offensively with 18 points – all but one of which came in the second half – while Thomas had 12 and junior forward Travin Thibodeaux added 11. Thomas and senior guard Tevin Broyles shared team-high rebounding honors with eight each, Broyles led the squad with three assists and junior forward Makur Puou had both of UNO’s blocked shots. Senior guard Christavious Gill, who scored eight points to go with two assists and a rebound, led all players with four steals.


“The big difference in the game was we had a slow start and that really hurt us,” Thomas said. “We dug a little hole for ourselves. But we just slowly came back into the game. We got our groove back. We just weren’t able to finish the game out. Congrats to Mount Saint Mary’s. They played hard and it was a great game.”


The Privateers scored the first four points of the game on buckets by Thomas and Gill and led by as many as five at 10-5 just over four minutes into the contest. The Mountaineers answered with a 10-0 run and, following a free throw by Frye, got a 3-pointer by Miles Wilson to go up 18-11. UNO scored the next four to get to within three at the 9:50 mark, and it remained a three-point affair at 22-19 with 6:16 to go in the opening stanza. Mount St. Mary’s swung momentum with nine unanswered points to go up 30-19, but the Privateers scored 10 of the final 12 points of the frame to go into the locker room down 32-29.


The Mountaineers opened the second half with a 7-2 run to go up by nine only to see New Orleans storm back with eight in a row to make it 40-39 with 14:57 to play.  After falling behind by six 2:18 later, the Privateers rallied to tie the score at 49-49 and again at 51-all but could not take the lead until Gill’s free throws inside of two minutes to set up the late-game dramatics.


“We’ve seen about every style of play you could have,” Slessinger said. “The biggest issues was we never got into a groove defensively where we could keep them in what I feel like is our main fundamental areas. We didn’t ball pressure well to the second half. There were a lot of things that we did that were outside of us and outside of what made us a really good championship team out of the Southland.


“It’s unfortunate because I think that everybody didn’t get to see our best game tonight. I sure would have loved to have an opportunity to take it to the next round to see if we could play that perfect game.”


Robinson led all Mount Saint Mary’s with a game-high 23 points while Wilson was next with 17 and complete a double-double with 11 rebounds. Wilson shared game-high assist honors with four assists, and the Mountaineer duo also share team-high steal honors with two apiece.

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Men’s Basketball Drops 67-66 Decision In 2017 NCAA First Four