Despite the disappointment of being delivered to Dayton, there were some positives for Mount St. Mary’s being in the Play-In game Tuesday night.
A second-straight Mountaineers game were once again broadcast by ESPN. And this time, Erin Andrews was in attendance. But best of all, the Mount can now add an official NCAA Tournament win to their books, as they beat Coppin State 69-60.
However, Mount St. Mary’s knew the win wasn’t just for themselves, but for a fallen friend.
Kyle Whelliston of ESPN tells how Mountaineer players, coaches and fans kept Dustin Bauer in their thoughts and cheers. On Sunday, March 9, the popular track star and friend of the team was critically injured in a stairwell fall, and was soon placed on life support. After hearing the news, the Mountaineers went out and thrashed top-seeded Robert Morris 83-65 in the Northeast Conference semifinals.
The following Wednesday, Mount St. Mary’s clinched their ticket to the Big Dance by beating host Sacred Heart. On the same night, Bauer died from his injuries.
Senior guard and close friend Chris Vann was especially hit hard by Bauer’s death, as was the whole community of the small 1,500-student school.
“He was so outgoing,” Vann recalled, his eyes moistening. “He always spoke his mind. He was such a funny guy. … When you were feeling down, he’d come up to you and cheer you up. We’re all going to remember him. We miss him a lot.”
Remembrances were everywhere in Dayton. The Mount’s band members had “J.B.” painted on their faces, and the cheerleaders wore wristbands with the number 13, Bauer’s lucky number. Vann wore one of the wristbands during pregame warmups, and he couldn’t help making note of some numerological coincidences.
“His favorite number was 13,” said Vann, smiling. “And we beat Sacred Heart in the NEC championship game by 13 points. And you know what? I scored 13 for him tonight.“
Never mind that the Mountaineers will likely be beaten Carolina blue by the Tar Heels on Friday. For at least one night, they’re winners - and they made a special fan proud.