Mount St. Joseph’s boys basketball team survived another tough test on the road Wednesday evening as the top-ranked Gaels defeated fourth-ranked Mount Carmel, 72-63, in a MIAA A Conference/Baltimore Catholic League contest in Essex.

After seeing a double-digit advantage trimmed to six, the Gaels buckled down on defense, improving to 6-0 (1-0 MIAA A Red, 2-0 BCL) on the young season.

“We have had two tough road games already,” Mount St. Joseph coach Pat Clatchey said. “We couldn’t take [the lead] to that next step. In order to do that you have to get consistent stops and execute better on offense. Those two things were inconsistent for us tonight. It was a learning experience.”

A big run highlighted by a transition dunk from senior Amani Hansberry gave Mount St. Joseph a 50-35 lead late in the third quarter. Mount Carmel (6-1, 1-1 MIAA A Red, 1-1 BCL) wouldn’t go away as juniors Drew Dixon and Mario Tatum helped the Cougars claw back into the game. Tatum had a pair of baskets to close the gap to 11 at the end of the third quarter.

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The Cougars continued to chip away and got within six points with a minute to go in the game when Dixon scored on a floater in the lane and converted the 3-point play at the line.

“They are really good,” Mount Carmel coach Trevor Quinn said. “We played hard the whole game. We just had some turnovers early and we were playing in a hole, trying to catch up. It’s hard to catch up against a good team with experience like that.”

After the teams traded baskets, Mount St. Joseph senior guard Austin Abrams came up with a key steal and earned a trip to the line on the ensuing breakaway to help seal the victory. Abrams went 1 for 2 at the line to push the lead to 67-61 with 44 seconds remaining.

“We just had to stay disciplined on defense,” Abrams said of the team’s approach late. “We didn’t rush anything, played at our own pace, and listened to coach. On offense, we didn’t force nothing. Just get downhill when you see an opening.”

The Cougars scored on the next possession to get within five, but the Gaels followed by making a pair of free throws and Abrams helped force a miss on next possession to help close out the game.

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Abrams’ intensity was on display all game long as the senior, bound to Stonehill, came up with a couple of steals to spark an 11-2 run by the Gaels at the end of the first quarter that gave them a 20-12 lead at the end of one quarter.

“He got off to a pretty good start,” Clatchey said. “He hasn’t played the last couple of games, so I think he was a little anxious. He’s got to [work on] keeping his poise a little bit. He made a couple of tough decisions with his passes, and one led to a bucket.”

Hansberry, an University of Illinois recruit, finished with 19 points to lead all scorers, to go along with 8 rebounds and 2 blocks. The Gaels center also displayed his versatility, using his ball-handling to make plays in transition after picking up rebounds for his team.

“Defense leads to offense so that was our mindset coming out,” Hansberry said. “We wanted to defend and get out in transition because that is what we are best at.”

No. 1 Mount St. Joseph 72, No. 4 Mount Carmel 63

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Mount St. Joseph — Valentine 10, Abrams 16, Farrell 17, Wingfield 3, Clark 3, Hansberry 19, Galloway 4. Totals: 29 13-18 72

Mount Carmel — Dixon 15, Tatum 9, Kalu 6, Sinigoj 12, Reid 14, Mordi 5, Scott 2. Totals: 27 7-13 63

Mount St. Joseph 20 11 21 20 – 72

Mount Carmel 12 10 19 22 -- 63