Blair Garrett

Amidst COVID restrictions and global pandemonium, Mount St. Mary’s basketball is still underway.

Precautions have been put in place to keep players and personnel safe, but the season has not been without its troubles. Breaks in the schedule due to positive COVID tests have put a hold on games through mid-December, but games are planned to resume activity once all proper tests have been cleared.

The NCAA has testing set in place to thin out instances of the virus spreading, and athletic programs around the country are dealing with quarantines and shutdowns following any positive tests.

The Mount is no different, and due to positive tests, the schedule has been shuffled around for both men’s and women’s teams. Games against Wagner College have been rescheduled from their original December 15-16 start date to January 26 and 27. All games and times are subject to change, and with record numbers across the country in Coronavirus cases, more schedule adjustments are likely to happen. 

The men’s team kicked off the season on a high note, taking down Morgan State in a close game on the road, where the team’s veteran players took over late to close the game out. The Mountaineers’ historic season-opening victory against Morgan State was the team’s first win against them since 1984.

The Mount hit a skid after its season opener, facing perennially tough competitors University of Maryland and Virginia Commonwealth University, dropping games to both.  

Despite several postponed and canceled games, the team will have time to regroup and lay the groundwork for the rest of the season after the winter break.

Jalen Gibbs and Damian Chong-Qui have been scoring leaders for the past three seasons, and both lead the team by a substantial amount heading into the holiday break.  

On the women’s side of the court, the team has faced similar challenges with COVID creeping into the conversation. Games against Coppin State University, Maryland, and La Salle have all been canceled due to athletic programs dealing with COVID issues.

Despite dropping its first two games of the season, the team has had positive results against tough competition. The Mount’s offense has thrived on a balanced attack, with everyone on the roster chipping in offensively.

Because of cancellations, Mount St. Mary’s has played just one game in Knott Arena this season, but the team’s home-court advantage was apparent.

The women comfortably beat the UMBC (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) Retrievers in a full-team effort, shoring up their offensive and defensive struggles from previous games.

The Mountaineers have the bulk of their schedule come January, where they take on more of their usual Northeast Conference rivals in multiple series of back-to-back games that will define the team’s season.

The abridged version of the men’s and women’s season follows unanimously approved guidelines by the NEC Council of Presidents to limit travel and potential exposure for student athletes and staff. From January 7, 2021, through the rest of the season, all games will be against in-conference teams.

Men’s and women’s schedules will be mirrored, too, to help limit the amount of travel programs have to do. Games will also be played on back-to-back days at the same site.

The NEC Tournament has been shortened to just finals and semifinals, with the top four teams competing for the NEC Championship. Regular season play resumes January 7, as both Mount St. Mary’s teams take on St. Francis Brooklyn in an away back-to-back matchup.

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