EMMITSBURG -- After Mount St. Mary's unimpressive victory over Robert Morris two days earlier, Chris McGuthrie said that the team lacked a finishing kick and that he wished it would bury an opponent just once.
Last night, McGuthrie got his wish.
The Mountaineers ball-hawked with gusto, wrecked the St. Francis (Pa.) offense and routed their Northeast Conference foe, 73-44, before 2,295 at Knott Arena.
If there were any remaining doubt about the outcome, they vanished in the first five minutes of the second half when McGuthrie got hot from three-point territory and the Red Flash went blank from everywhere on the court.
McGuthrie scored 11 of the points as Mount St. Mary's (8-6, 4-2) unleashed a 15-0 run to overwhelm a St. Francis team considered a sleeper in the conference title race.
"We defended them right out of the game," said Mount coach Jim Phelan. "We've been emphasizing that hard, telling them they're going to have to play harder for longer periods of time."
The Mount's stellar point guard, Riley Inge, said he didn't believe the team had been overly intense since it crushed Rider in New Jersey on Jan. 11.
"We went up there to prove to them [Rider] that last year wasn't a fluke," said Inge, referring to the Mount's first NEC championship. "I don't think we've felt as intense since . . . until tonight."
Inge played only 21 minutes last night after becoming the first Mountaineer to be named the ECAC Player of the Week.
It wasn't necessary to extend the team's most indispensable player during a mismatch in which St. Francis (5-9, 3-4) committed 26 turnovers and shot 36 percent from the field while making one of 13 from three-point range.
The Red Flash's two leading scorers, Rob Wooster (Annapolis) and Terrence Martin, combined for two points.
"They're mostly stand-still shooters, and they weren't getting many good looks [at the basket]," said Phelan. "We just ran them out of their offense."
"In the first half, we got their guards to think about pressure, but no traps [double teams]," said McGuthrie. "Then in the second half, we sprung the traps. That was all part of our game plan."
McGuthrie finished with a game-high 28 points while playing 29 minutes. Phelan had all the starters off the floor with eight minutes remaining in the game.
"We really concentrated on defense because Robert Morris [winless in the NEC] scored 76 on us," said Inge. "We want to keep people in the 50 to 60 range."
St. Francis has been having offensive woes all season, entering the game with a 39 percent shooting average and a 61-point scoring average. In six previous starts when the Red Flash allowed at least 69 points, it lost.
It was an important victory for the defending NEC titlists, who face four straight league games on the road, including a makeup date at Wagner next Monday.
"After that, we have a week off, which is good," said Phelan. "But after winning at Rider, you want to get a few more away from here."