Wagner rolls over Mount St. Mary's, 77-70

February 28, 1993|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Staff Writer

EMMITSBURG -- The headliners accumulated their points, bu it was the peripheral figures who decided second place in the Northeast Conference last night.

Five Wagner reserves outscored Mount St. Mary's, 12-5, during one five-minute span late in the second half and that was the winning margin in the Seahawks' 77-70 victory at Knott Arena that handed them the No. 2 seeding in the league tournament this week.

The defeat left the Mountaineers (12-14, 10-8) tied with Marist for third in the final regular-season standings. Mount St. Mary's receives the third seed based on two triumphs over Marist and will play St. Francis (N.Y.) in the quarterfinals here Thursday night.

Wagner (16-11, 12-6) was coming off an emotionally wracking 58-54 loss at Rider Thursday that decided the regular-season title.

The Seahawks played as if they were still feeling the aftershocks, falling victim to a 15-point assault by Mount guard Kevin Booth in the first five minutes that left them behind 19-7.

They still trailed by one (58-57) when the bench went to work with a jumper by Tony Rice that pushed them ahead, two free throws and a driving layup by Keith Roberts and two follow shots by Todd Rohlin.

When that surprising sequence ended, Wagner was on top, 69-63, and coach Tim Capstraw was wavering about returning his starters to the game.

"Clearly, our bench won the game," said Capstraw. "I was trying to play the return of the starters by the score, but it kept on going up in our favor. And when our regulars did go back in, they had some legs left. That helped us a lot."

Mount St. Mary's never got any closer than three (71-68 on a three-pointer by Phil Galvin and then 73-70) after the telling spurt.

Capstraw thought his team was "really down after being 10 points ahead at Rider two nights ago. We were lethargic at the beginning. But our subs really gave us what we needed tonight."

Booth and freshman sensation Chris McGuthrie combined for 48 points and kept the Seahawks at bay for almost 30 minutes with scant help from the Mount frontcourt.

Particularly noticeable was a two-point night by forward Michael Watson, the only NEC reserve averaging in double figures.

"We just got lackluster production at two or three positions," said Mount coach Jim Phelan. "This was a team we should have buried early, but their reserves came on and absolutely beat us. They were scoring every time down."

As a result, Mount St. Mary's finished with a 6-6 home record, 4-5 against NEC opposition. One of those home defeats was to St. Francis of New York, 76-72.

"It's the same old story," said Phelan. "We managed to find a way to lose here. We played well for a while, then hit a wall. It just doesn't seem like a good thing when we're home. It's really kind of amazing. "

As usual, the Seahawks' scoring was balanced. They have four players averaging in double figures and every starter scored at least nine points last night with guard Bobby Hopson leading the way with 18.

Wagner, the pre-season favorite, finished with eight victories in its last 10 games and now will play anyone except Rider on its home court in the tournament.

Phelan doesn't know what to expect of his team in the tournament after a topsy-turvy NEC season in which Robert Morris, which spent most of the winter in last place, is taking a four-game winning streak into tourney play.

"I'm not happy with third at all," he said. "I'm disgusted. We just can't maintain our level of play. We raise it for certain games, then come here and don't continue it. It's maddening."

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