DAYTON, Ohio – D.J. Evans is charitably listed at 5-foot-9. His coach and teammates tease him that he looks a foot shorter.
Yet he stood awfully tall for Albany on Tuesday night.
Evans scored 22 points, including two clinching free throws with 12.6 seconds left, to lead the Great Danes to their first NCAA tournament victory, 71-64 over Mount St. Mary’s in the First Four.
Evans, an often overlooked component in Albany’s lineup, belied his height with nine rebounds to go with three assists.
“He’s about 4-foot-8, so he’s really impressive,” laughed his running mate at guard, Peter Hooley, who had 20 points. “I don’t think there’s another 4-8 guard who could go in there and get that many boards. He did what he needed to do to get this win.”
It was a signature victory for the America East Conference tournament champs, who had come up empty in three previous trips to the big dance.
The Great Danes (19-14) advance to meet overall No. 1 seed and top-ranked Florida on Thursday in Orlando. But that was a concern for another day.
It was a wild game of incredible turnarounds, with the Great Danes bolting to leads of 13-0 and 21-2, only to have The Mount (16-17) bounce back with a 21-2 run of its own to pull even.
N.C. State 74, Xavier 59: T.J. Warren scored 16 of his 25 points in the second half, showing why he was the ACC’s player of the year, and North Carolina State led most of the way.
Center Matt Stainbrook led Xavier with 19 points and nine rebounds despite an injured left knee.