St. Mary's comeback tops St. Frances, 68-62

February 19, 1994|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,Special to The Sun

Throughout most of yesterday's Catholic League showdown with No. 4 St. Frances, the third-ranked St. Mary's Saints were in a position that, more and more these days, they seem to find to their liking.

Trailing.

The Saints have shown a penchant for mounting second-half comebacks this season, and yesterday proved to be no different.

Guard Kris Miller scored 25 points -- including 15 in the fourth quarter -- to help St. Mary's rally from an early 11-point deficit en route to a 68-62 win at the University of Baltimore.

The victory extended the area's longest winning streak to 18 games and gave the Saints (19-2 overall, 10-0 in the league) a virtual lock on the regular-season title and the top seed for next weekend's tournament. They can clinch both with a win tomorrow against Seton Keough.

While St. Mary's coach Harry Dobson admits the wins have been fun, he said the manner in which they have been achieved has made them even more so.

"This team has probably more guts than any team I've ever had," said Dobson. "When the kids get down, they have complete confidence that they can come back and win."

That was true in the teams' first meeting Jan. 10 -- when St. Frances (18-3, 8-2) led until the final minutes in a 64-62 Saints victory, and in Wednesday's 46-42 win over No. 6 Mount Hebron in the Fuel Fund Classic, in which the Saints trailed by as much as 12.

And it was true again yesterday.

After running to a 7-2 lead, the Saints began to struggle against the Panthers' pressure defense and trailed 39-28 late in the second quarter after committing 12 turnovers.

Forward Melba Chambers led the Panthers with a game-high 32 points.

But the Saints battled back, turning up the pressure on defense and outscoring the Panthers 18-3 to start the third quarter, tying the game at 45.

After St. Frances briefly regained a six-point advantage, the Saints again rallied, tying the game on a three-pointer by Miller and taking a 59-57 lead on a layup by Tara Foran with 2:12 left.

Poor shooting killed any chance for a St. Frances victory, as the Panthers shot just 19 percent in the second half.

"They got pressure on our shots," said St. Frances coach Jerome Shelton. "We missed a lot of shots we usually make. We were just rushing our shots."

Shelton said that the game was almost a carbon copy of the Panthers' previous loss to the Saints.

"We had the same kinds of opportunities, but we didn't cash in. It was almost deja vu for us."

Once the Saints took the lead, they kept it, thanks in large part to Miller's 6-for-7 foul shooting in the final 2:00. The final blow came with 1:36 left, when Panthers point guard Kristi Webb fouled out.

For the St. Mary's players, coming back was all a matter of confidence.

"We came back by 12 at the Fuel Fund, so we were really getting used to coming back," said Miller. "I knew we could beat them."

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