EMMITSBURG WJB — EMMITSBURG -- It was difficult to tell the winning coach from the losing coach last night at Knott Arena.
Jim Phelan of Mount St. Mary's was not at all happy about his team's lack of cohesiveness in an 88-69 victory over Maryland Eastern Shore in the Mountaineers' annual Holiday Tournament.
Conversely, Bobby Wilkerson was trying to be upbeat after his third straight defeat as coach of the winless Hawks.
"Something is just not clicking," Phelan said. "We can't get everybody playing well together. When we're handling the ball, we're not shooting as well, when we're shooting OK, we can't rebound.
"It appears to be the right mix of people, but we're just kind of never together."
That type of sporadic play will not serve the Mountaineers well tonight when they face a poised Georgia State team for the championship. Georgia State beat Drexel, 75-59, in the earlier game.
The Hawks lost their ninth straight and never led in the game.
Nonetheless, Wilkerson was encouraged by their ability to hang in contention until midway through the second half, when Mount St. Mary's started to pull away.
"We have our moments," said Wilkerson, a starting guard on Indiana's 1976 undefeated national titlist. "But our big people have to do a better job. We have to get something inside.
"We came back and then stopped ourselves with mistakes. We'll keep working and emphasize more defense in the new system."
The Mountaineers' Chris Cavanagh, a 7-footer, dominated in the second half with 13 points and five rebounds and provided the key points when the perimeter game failed.
Kevin Booth, the team's leading scorer, was only four of 12 from the field and scored 12 points.
"We have trouble getting the ball when Cavanagh isn't in there," Phelan said. "We're going to have to do better against Georgia State. They're very poised.
"One of these nights I look for us to put it together."
The Hawks shot 29.4 percent in the first half and fell behind by as many as 15 before rallying slightly to trail, 39-30, at intermission.
They never led after Mount St. Mary's guard Phil Galvin scored the first two baskets of the game on fast breaks.
Excessive fouling, sloppy ballhandling and inconsistent offense marred the half. They combined for 20 turnovers and 23 personals.
The closest UMES came was at 12-11 before the Mountaineers scored the next eight points to maintain control.
Booth and Galvin, the Mount backcourt tandem, scored 10 points each, continuing to lead the offense. Galvin has averaged 18 points since joining the starting lineup, and Booth entered the game with a team-high 20.9 average.
Mount St. Mary's had won nine of the previous 11 tournaments and carried a 20-2 game record into this event.
Drexel, one of the other teams to win the title, succumbed to a 37-17 spree by Georgia State in the first 15 minutes of the second half during the opener.
The Panthers (4-4) then protected their advantage with a slowdown game and proved they will be difficult to beat.