JOE KAY, AP Sports Writer
DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Diminutive point guard Junior Robinson scored 23 points, including the go-ahead jumper with 1:27 to play, and Mount St. Mary’s held on for a 67-66 victory over New Orleans on Tuesday night in the opening game of the First Four.
Robinson, the smallest player in Division I at 5-foot-5, carried the Mountaineers (20-15) to only their second NCAA Tournament win.
They’ll head to Buffalo to play defending national champion and top overall seed Villanova in the East Regional on Thursday.
Mount St. Mary’s led most of the way, but New Orleans (20-12) pulled off a comeback befitting its resurgent season. The Privateers had a chance for a final shot, but Erik Thomas’ inbound pass with 2.6 seconds left was off target and stolen by the Mountaineers’ Chris Wray to clinch it.
Mount St. Mary’s: The Mountaineers wear warmup shirts with “Mayhem” on the back, reminding them of their pressure defense. They forced 14 turnovers that set up 19 points.
New Orleans: The Privateers’ NCAA Tournament appearance was part of a big turnaround. The school was severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, leaving its future in doubt. The Privateers went 10-20 last season and pulled off one of the biggest turnarounds to reach the tournament.
Mount St. Mary’s: The Mountaineers will be trying to pull off the first upset of a top seed by a No. 16 seed when they face Villanova.
New Orleans: The Privateers are 1-5 all-time in the tournament. They lose three senior starters: Tevin Broyles, Christavious Gill and Erik Thomas.
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