Mount tops St. Francis 2-0 in NEC

January 08, 1993|By From Staff Reports

NEW YORK -- Even though his team was off to a slow start record-wise, Mount St. Mary's coach Jim Phelan kept telling anyone who would listen that there was reason for hope once his team got into its Northeast Conference schedule.

And, after last night's 83-71 win at St. Francis (1-9, 0-2), the Mountaineers (3-6, 2-0) are proving their 39th-year coach to be a prophet.

"This team has played hard every time out," said Phelan. "Our shooters were struggling in December, but the effort remained a constant. I felt once we got against teams we were familiar with, our offense would pick up."

Using a stifling defense, the Mount broke open a close game midway in the second half.

Trailing 44-42 with 13:23 to play, Mount St. Mary's went on a 21-4 run over the next 5:54.

"We kept switching things up on them [going from zone to man to man], and you could see it bothered them," Phelan said.

Freshman Jeff Balistrere got the decisive run started with two free throws to tie the score, 44-44, with 12:49 remaining.

Senior Kevin Booth (19 points), who has regained his shooting touch the past two games, hit a three-pointer off a backcourt steal 10 seconds later to give the Mount the lead for good.

Freshman Chris McGuthrie, who led all scorers with 27 points, had seven of the team's next 11.

"We've been looking forward to this week since before Christmas," said Phelan, who needs four wins to reach 700. "To be 2-0 is certainly nice, but to be 2-0 with a pair of road victories puts us in great shape."

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