EMMITSBURG - The scene was set perfectly yesterday for a victory that could start the turnaround of the Mount St. Mary's basketball season.
The team was at Knott Arena for the start of a six-game homestand, it had just returned from a noble effort at North Carolina State and the Lefty Driesell-coached James Madison Dukes hadn't played particularly well.
As a result, the Mount carried a 10-polnt lead into the final 5 1/2 minutes of the game.
But the entire stage came unglued when a Mount mistake followed by a length-of-the-floor drive to a layup by Dukes guard Kenny Brooks gave James Madison a 72-71 triumph at the buzzer.
"They never led (in the second half) until the final second," said Mount St. Mary's coach Jim Phelan. "This is only the second time I can remember losing a game like this."
Phelan has coached nearly 1,000 times at Mount St. Mary's, so this was a significant finish.
A three-point basket by Steve Hood with 22 seconds left climaxed James Madison's comeback from a 12-point deficit, but the Mount supposedly still had the final possession in a 70-70 tie.
After a timeout to set up the last play, senior Steve Kinney drove to the hoop with nine seconds to go instead of waiting until there was no chance for the Dukes to get another shot.
Dukes center Chancellor Nichols (20 points, 13 rebounds) fouled out on the play, and Kinney, a 50 percent free-throw shooter, made the first, but missed the second, leaving the Mount with a 71-70 lead and James Madison with six seconds to try to win.