Rider shuts down McGuthrie, Mount

January 29, 1995|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Sun Staff Writer

LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J. -- It could have been a benchmark game for Mount St. Mary's, which has never led the Northeast Conference this late in the regular season.

But Rider's Deon Hames wouldn't allow that to happen.

Hames frustrated the Mounts' leading scorer, Chris McGuthrie, with his defense and took command of his team's offense to spark Rider to an 89-78 NEC victory yesterday before 1,650 at Alumni Gymnasium.

With the Broncs' front line in foul trouble most of the day, Hames scored 28 points -- half from the foul line -- and held McGuthrie to eight shots and nine points.

It was a marquee performance by the native of nearby Trenton, who got special attention from coach Kevin Bannon in the post-game reviews.

"Deon's play led us at both ends," said Bannon. "He gave stability to our offense when we had foul trouble, and on defense, he takes so much pride in his role of taking on the other team's best perimeter player."

Hames, Rider's point guard, was all over McGuthrie, the No. 2 NEC scorer with a 20.7 average, disrupting one of the Mounts' best offensive options.

"I just took it as a personal challenge, denying him the ball and making him earn everything," said Hames. "Chris sort of shied away from the things he does best.

"I'm more proud of the fact that he had nine points than the ones I scored. It was pretty big to stop Chris McGuthrie."

But it wasn't the whole story. Rider (10-6, 7-1) stayed atop the league with its 31st victory in the past 35 home games at a site affectionately known as the "Broncs' zoo."

Mount St. Mary's never had a serious streak and led only after its first two baskets. The Mountaineers were between six and 12 points behind for most of the game before closing to within 44-43 early in the second half on McGuthrie's sole three-pointer.

But two baskets by Dean Edwards (13 points) and a three-point play by Hames quickly pushed Rider ahead 56-45, and Mount St. Mary's tried to play catch-up from that point.

"We had our chances. We just couldn't sustain anything," said Mounts coach Jim Phelan, whose team had a week to prepare for this game. "Rider is hard to stop. They shoot well everywhere, but particularly well here."

Mount St. Mary's (8-9, 6-3) received some help from stalwart sixth man Michael Watson (19 points, eight rebounds) and Riley Inge (20 points, four assists) but couldn't exploit Rider's foul problems and received almost no offensive punch from its massive front-line players.

"We weren't getting much short at all until Watson got in there," said Phelan. "We were missing some obvious ones."

Rider, 41-9 in league play since joining the NEC three years ago, is in the driver's seat to obtain home-court advantage in all conference tourney games.

The Broncs play their next three and five of their next seven league games at home, including a rematch with Monmouth, the only NEC team to beat them.

"At certain times, you have to step up and put a string together, and this was our time," said Bannon. "We've had the pleasure of hosting six playoff games in this gym."

Hames, a preseason All-NEC choice, stepped up yesterday at his home base. "Any time you're at home, you have more energy," he said. "The crowd gets in the game and you tend to get more calls [from the officials] on your own court. But the bottom line is we still have to do it."

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