Mount trounces Marist as Booth hits high of 29 Preseason favorite never factor, 90-74

January 12, 1993|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Staff Writer

EMMITSBURG -- This game was what coach Jim Phelan envisioned before the season when he said he was getting "that old tingle again."

Mount St. Mary's jumped on Marist, one of the league's preseason favorites, from the beginning and never let up while rolling to a 90-74 Northeast Conference triumph last night that brought Phelan to within three victories of 700 in his career.

The Mountaineers (4-7, 3-1) fused the talents of freshman point man Chris McGuthrie and their old standby, Kevin Booth, with a superior all-around game by forward Michael Watson and never were seriously threatened.

Despite playing their fifth game in nine days, they soared to a 24-point lead (82-58) before the bench cleared for mop-up time.

"We got a home run tonight," said Phelan.

Booth was hungry for the ball after hitting two three-pointers in the first 1 1/2 minutes and finished with 9-for-12 from the field and a season-high 29 points.

McGuthrie, who ranks among the league leaders in six offensive categories, penetrated almost at will for a career-high nine assists, scored 23 points and had only two turnovers in 36 minutes.

Watson has come alive since league play began and he continued that surge with 16 points on seven of nine from the floor, a game-high 10 rebounds and three blocks.

It was total domination against Marist (5-7, 1-2), which has four senior starters and defeated the Mount twice last year.

"Everyone seems really excited about this one," said McGuthrie, the No. 2 freshman scorer in the nation. "There was a lot of chemistry in this game. Marist was supposed to be the best team and we beat them."

The Mount had shot poorly two days earlier in a 60-57 defeat to Fairleigh-Dickinson at Knott Arena. They hit only 36.5 percent of their shots with McGuthrie and Booth making a combined 10 of 32.

"We just had an off night," said Booth. "But Chris and I played together as good as we have in any game [tonight]. He gets in there and penetrates and sees guys nobody else sees open.

"He even kicked it out to me a couple of times for jumpers."

Marist's Izett Buchanan erupted for 45 points, the fifth highest single-game total all season, in last year's meeting here, but last night settled for 16 and fouled out.

It is a different Mount defense these days, one that has permitted just more than 73 points a game, down 14 from last season.

"We're just playing with a lot more intensity," said Phelan. "We had to get that back. We're doing a good job of keeping pressure on the ball."

Jeff Balistrere put a clamp on Buchanan and the Mount bottled up Marist's inside threats most of the game. Center Fred Ingles had just four first-half points.

"At times, they [the Red Foxes] looked out of sync and I don't think we played them any harder than other teams," said Phelan.

McGuthrie said he and Booth played "our best game together. This should be the way each game goes. He's a great shooter. My job is to complement him."

"I'm just getting settled back into the position," said Booth, who is back at shooting guard after playing the point much of last season. "Earlier, I wasn't real comfortable."

Watson has now scored in double figures in five consecutive games and the Mount is looking more like a legitimate contender in the NEC.

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