St. Mary's City, Md. – Junior guard Devin Spencer (Baltimore, Md./Towson Catholic) poured in a career-high 28 points in leading the St. Mary's College of Maryland men's basketball team to a 69-57 victory over No. 20 Bethany (W.Va.) College in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship Tournament Thursday night.
Making its fourth NCAA Tournament appearance, St. Mary's (20-7) is advancing to Saturday's NCAA Second Round contest at No. 6 Virginia Wesleyan College (25-3), who received a first-round bye. Saturday's tip-off is set for 7:00 pm.
Spencer could not miss from downtown as he knocked down a career-high seven three-point field goals in 11 attempts, finishing 9-of-18 from the floor. Spencer also added a career-best three steals.
The Seahawks never trailed in the first half, owning a 25-14 advantage on a layup by junior forward Jeff Haus (Pittsburgh, Pa./North Allegheny) with 7:40 remaining. Bethany scored two quick baskets to close the gap to seven at 6:21 but St. Mary's put together a 7-2 run to claim a 32-20 at halftime. Spencer notched 14 first-half points on 4-of-7 shooting from behind the arc.
Six players stepped on the court for the Bethany Bison (25-4) in the first half and five of them tallied four points each while this year's Presidents' Athletic Conference Player of the Year, junior forward Nick Wilson (Venetia, Pa./Peters Township), was held scoreless.
St. Mary's started the second half on a 13-5 run to post a 20-point lead at 15:31 – its biggest lead of the contest – as sophomore forward Christian MacAuley (Silver Spring, Md./Paint Branch) punctuated the run with a dunk off sophomore guard Kyle Wise's (Baltimore, Md./Calvert Hall) alley-oop.
The Bison weren't ready to see their season come to an end and they constructed a 31-16 run to erase the 20-point deficit and pull within 61-56 at 3:40 as first-year guard Delonte' Joyce (Annapolis, Md./Annapolis) capped the run with a jumper. St. Mary's responded with an 8-1 streak to secure the win and the opportunity to continue its quest for a national title.
Haus collected his second career double-double on 14 points and career-best 13 rebounds while MacAuley hauled in 11 boards and junior guard Chris Hutchinson (Owings Mills, Md./New Town) chipped in 10 points.
Junior guard Reece Mabery (Natrona Heights, Pa./Highlands) paced Bethany with 21 points, five assists and five steals while senior forward British Alexander (Dayton, Ohio/Trotwood Madison) tallied a double-double on game-high 14 caroms and 10 points.
The Seahawks now own an 8-3 record in four NCAA appearances and advanced all the way to the Elite Eight last season.