Long Island brings down Mount Mountaineers fall at home, 78-76

February 07, 1993|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Staff Writer

EMMITSBURG -- Mount St. Mary's bid to regain a share of the Northeast Conference lead came up short last night.

Long Island University, led virtually the entire game and hung on to edge the Mountaineers, 78-76, before a boisterous crowd of 3,190 at Knott Arena.

It was the second straight league loss at home for Mount St. Mary's (8-10, 7-4), which could have tied Rider (a loser to St. Francis, N.Y., yesterday) at the top by winning.

The setback completed a week that didn't sit very well with coach Jim Phelan, whose team was beaten by St. Francis, 76-72, Thursday night.

"This is getting to be routine," Phelan said after the game. "A greathouse, an interesting rally, but falling short.

"We had turnovers at every imaginable bad time and nobody stepping up when we needed it. I'm getting tired of this. I'm going to have to make changes."

Simply put, Phelan thought his team was out-fought and out-hustled on a night when five more athletes were inducted into the school's Hall of Fame, including 1986 basketball star Paul Edwards of Baltimore.

"We're trying to battle from behind the whole damn game and every time we needed a shot we couldn't get it," he said. "We were floating along too nicely on our little bubble and the bubble has burst."

Not that the Mountaineers are out of the running. They remain one game behind Rider, which has three losses in the NEC, and tied for second with Wagner.

But Phelan is highly disturbed that the Mounts blew an excellent opportunity to gain an edge.

"I thought we had the league really in our own hands with all thesehome games coming up," he said. "But I don't think we played as hard and that's been happening to us here.

"With the talent so even in this league, you can't win unless you play harder. We're not better."

The Black Birds (8-11, 5-6) kept alive their own hopes for a regular-season title with the win. They took the lead at 5-4 and never relinquished it.

Mount St. Mary's scratched and clawed and almost got there. Chad Stull hit two straight buckets, one following a Phil Galvin-prompted steal to close the deficit to 73-71 with 37 seconds remaining.

A three-point play by Michael Watson neutralized one by the Black Birds' Corbett Smith at the 0:16 mark and, after two missed free throws by LIU's Brian Gaffney, the Mount had a chance to tie or win.

But a pass by Chris McGuthrie intended for Stull caromed off the Mount forward's hands and Corbett Smith dropped two free throws at the other end to ice it.

"It was just the ups and downs of the NEC," said LIU coach Paul Lizzo. "I told Jim before the game that the team that gets hot at the end will win it. There is no home-court in this league.

"We did some strange things down the stretch in this one, but just hung on. It's a good win. It puts us back in the race."

Dwayne Morton stung the Mount with four three-pointers in the first half, as LIU built its commanding lead, and finished with 21 points. Top scorer Joe Griffin finished with 24 despite foul trouble.

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