Mount St. Mary's advances to semis Beats St. Francis in overtime, 81-78

March 05, 1993|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Staff Writer

EMMITSBURG -- Mount St. Mary's blew an eight-point lead in the final three minutes of regulation last night, but fought off St. Francis, N.Y., in overtime for an 81-78 victory in the quarterfinals of the Northeast Conference tournament.

The Mountaineers (13-14) were without their senior leader, Kevin Booth, after he hit a backdoor basket for a 71-63 lead, then fouled out seconds later with 3:08 to go in regulation.

St. Francis immediately rallied behind Charles Hatcher, who knocked in two free throws and a three-pointer, then pulled to one on a put-back by Chris Ortiz.

Freshman Chris McGuthrie made one of two free throws to give the Mounts a two-point lead again with 1:43 to play, but Ron Arnold of the Terriers called timeout on the next sequence when he was pinned against the baseline under his basket.

St. Francis regrouped, and Abuda Torrence scored inside to tie the score at 72.

Booth's replacement, Sefton Robinson untied it with a big shot ++ from the corner, McGuthrie assisting, but Torrence drove the lane to re-tie it at 74.

Mount coach Jim Phelan called time out with nine seconds left to set up the final play, but Robinson's 20-footer was short.

In the overtime, Michael Watson scored the first basket and the Mounts did not trail.

Neither team scored after Watson hit two foul shots with 1:21 left for the final margin. In fact, Mount St. Mary's missed four straight free throws after that and preserved the victory because of Watson's two blocks before he also fouled out and the inaccurate long-range shooting of St. Francis.

The victory sends third-seeded Mount St. Mary's into a third meeting with No. 2 Wagner, which beat Monmouth last night at home. Wagner defeated the Mounts, 77-70, at Knott Arena in the regular-season finale last Saturday.

McGuthrie scored 20 points and Booth added 16 for Mount St. Mary's, but a 17 points and eight rebounds by Watson was a clutch performance for a team in need of some inside punch.

The Mounts shot 50 percent from the floor in their first NEC playoff game at home.

They lost to St. Francis, Pa., last season in the Division I playoff opener.

St. Francis (9-18) dominated the first half, committing only three turnovers despite their up-tempostyle and taking a 44-39 lead.

The Mounts did not lead in the first half after the first three minutes and lagged by as many as 10 points as their defense did little damage and their offense had trouble against the Terrier press.

A late surge fueled by freshman Jeff Balistrere helped them climb back.

Balistrere, who has struggled with his shooting all season, dropped in a three-pointer and had six first-half points.

All-NEC second team Ron Arnold had 12 points in the first 20 minutes for St. Francis and Hatcher and Jeff Myers contributed 10 each.

The two teams split during the regular season, winning on each other's courts.

St. Francis had won its last three games at Knott Arena and three of its last four this season.

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