Deandre Thomas buried a 3-pointer at the buzzer to lift Mount St. Mary’s to a thrilling 72-70 win over Howard before a lively crowd of 1,617 on Tuesday night. Trailing by one, the Mount’s Mezie Offurum drove the lane and kicked the ball out to Thomas on the left wing and the senior guard drained his second buzzer beater of the season for the win.
Thomas, who transferred to the Mount last season from Samford, made his first start as a Mountaineer in the game and responded with 15 points, three assists and two steals along with his game-winning shot. The 6-5 guard hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime in the Mount’s 74-70 win at Robert Morris on November 19.
In a game that was nip-and-tuck, there were four lead changes in the final two minutes. The excitement started when Howard’s Elijah Hawkins drained a 3-pointer with 1:48 left to put his team on top, 67-66. Offurum answered with a rising jumper from the right baseline with 44 seconds on the clock for a 68-67 advantage. The Mount got a stop on the next possession, and Offurum then hit 1-of-2 at the line to make the Mount a 69-67 advantage. Howard answered when Tai Bibbs nailed a three-pointer from the right corner with 17 seconds left for a 70-69 lead to set up the Mount’s final possession.
On the final possession, Offurum had the ball on the right wing, waived off the screen, and drove the middle in the closing seconds. When the defense collapsed to the middle, Offurum found Thomas for the game-winning shot that set off an enthusiastic celebration on the court.
Training 33-31 at the half, the Mount scored the first five points of the second stanza to take the lead. Howard fought back, taking a 46-45 lead with 12:18 on the clock on a Randy Brumant 3-pointer. The Mount answered with the next eight points to take its biggest lead of the game, 53-46, with 10:00 remaining. Freshman Jedy Cordilia started the run with a dunk on a feed from Thomas. Jalen Benjamin and Nana Opoku each hit a pair of free throws, and Offurum threw home an emphatic dunk to cap the run.
Howard scored the next six points to make it a one-point game, and eventually tied the score at 62-62 on a pair of Hawkins free throws. The Mount’s Benjamin then converted 4-of-4 at the line to put the Mount up, 66-62, before Howard answered, taking the 67-66 lead in the final two minutes.
Benjamin paced the Mountaineers with 21 points, five assists and four rebound, hitting 5-of-9 from the field and 3-of-4 from three-point range. Offurum added 16 points and six rebounds while Thomas had his 15-point effort. Opoku added 11 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three blocks while Malik Jefferson controlled the boards with a game-high 13 rebounds. Hawkins led Howard (4-4) with 19 points, six rebounds and five assists, hitting 8-of-22 from the field. Kyle Foster chipped in 16 points off the bench with Bibbs (12) and Brumant (11) also scoring in double figures.
The Mountaineers shot 47.1 percent in the game and was 7-of-17 (41.2 percent) from three-point range. Howard converted 46.6 percent and was 6-of-18 (33.3 percent) from three-point range. The Mountaineers had 18 turnovers in the game with the Bison taking advantage with 26 points off of those miscues. The Mount held a commanding 39-to-26 advantage on the boards.
The Mount (3-5) had a strong start to the game, jumping out to a 10-to-2 lead in the opening four minutes. Benjamin and Thomas kick-started the run with each hitting a 3-pointer. Howard was able to regain control, taking its biggest lead at 26-to-19 after a Hawkins bucket in the paint off a Mount turnover on the press with 3:06 left in the first half. The Mount countered with the next six points to make it a one-point game, and Benjamin converted a traditional three-point play to tie the score at 28-28. Howard scored the next five points before Benjamin drained a long triple at the buzzer to end the half to make it a two-point game.
The Mount’s next game will be the Catholic Clash at longtime rival Loyola on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. It will be the 176th meeting all-time between the two schools with the Mount holding a 100-75 lead in the series. The two schools did not play last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the first time they did not play since the Mount did not have a 1942-43 season due to World War II.