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Originally published Wednesday, March 19, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Mount St. Mary's 69, Coppin State 60 | Mountaineers play Tar Heels in Raleigh

The Mount finally got The Win. Mount St. Mary's, a Maryland school known for getting drubbed in its previous two appearances in the NCAA...

The Associated Press

DAYTON, Ohio — The Mount finally got The Win.

Mount St. Mary's, a Maryland school known for getting drubbed in its previous two appearances in the NCAA tournament, got this one started with a nice-looking win Tuesday night in the opening game.

A 69-60 victory over Coppin State set up a daunting second game for the Mountaineers (19-14), who immediately started preparing for their next opponent.

Anybody up for playing North Carolina? In its own backyard, no less?

"I envisioned playing against them when I was little," said guard Jeremy Goode, a Carolina native who led the way with 21 points. "To play against them means a lot."

It means a season that seemed to be a lost cause only a few weeks ago can go on for at least a few more days.

The Mountaineers won their last five games to shed their losing record and make the tournament, then got the one victory that's always been well out of reach. In its two other NCAA games, Mount St. Mary's lost to Kentucky by 46 points in 1995 and to Michigan State by 23 in 1999.

"It's a relief," said Kelly Beidler, who had 15 rebounds. "It just felt good to say we've actually won an NCAA game."

No time to savor it. Tournament reality hits Friday, when the Mount plays the top-seeded Tar Heels in Raleigh. Fans in the crowd of 8,464 at University of Dayton Arena held up signs calling on the play-in winner to "Bury N. Carolina."

Tough chance for that. A 16th seed has never taken down a No. 1.

But that's something for later. For a few sweet minutes Tuesday night, Mount St. Mary's got to savor its breakthrough over another Maryland school, located about 60 miles away.

Coppin State (16-21) became the first team to reach the tournament with 20 losses, and the Eagles played as if they were in over their heads during the closing minutes. With the pressure on, they went five minutes without scoring, allowing Mount St. Mary's to break it open.

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Sensing the enormity of the moment, they missed eight straight shots and a pair of free throws. Several times, the ball started to roll in, then agonizingly spun out.

"We had a lot of opportunities," said Tywain McKee, who had a team-high 15 points. "We just couldn't put them in."

Goode, a 5-foot-9 sophomore, was the spark for Mount St. Mary's up-tempo offense. He did it all, driving to the basket and hitting fadeaway jumpers over much taller players.

He also supplied the final touches, hitting four free throws in the last 27 seconds.

Some folks didn't think the Mountaineers deserved to be in the tournament, given their RPI of 159.

"Me and Chris [Vann] were in the hotel watching ESPN, and a guy says this game shouldn't even be played," Goode said. "He said neither team deserved to be in the tournament. That kind of got us ready to play."

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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