EMMITSBURG -- Sometimes a basketball game slips away. Other times, it vanishes in the blink of an eye.
The latter happened to Mount St. Mary's last night. A 15-0 run by Wagner that started 2 1/2 minutes before intermission and ended 2 1/2 minutes after sent the Mountaineers reeling to an 82-69 defeat at Knott Arena.
"It was disgraceful, lackadaisical, perhaps our worst effort of the year," said a disgusted Mount coach Jim Phelan. "To win five in a row, then play reasonably well [in a 95-86 loss at Long Island Thursday] and come home on homecoming week and do this, it boggles my mind."
Wagner went from a 28-25 deficit to a 40-28 lead with the run, extended the margin to 25, then withstood a couple of Mount runs late in the game.
But the Mount's strong showing in the early part of the game was basically a one-man show, as sophomore guard Eric Bethel tossed in 17 of his team-high 19 points in the game's first 11 minutes.
"Early on he was hot, but nobody else was," Phelan said. "And after he cooled off, nobody else got hot, either."
Wagner coach Tim Capstraw made a subtle defensive tTC adjustment on Bethel, telling his guards to move together a bit more and better guard the outside shot. But it may have been another move by Capstraw that disrupted the Mountaineers even more -- mixing both a zone and man-to-man defense.
"[The win] wasn't a fluke," Capstraw said. "We made an adjustment. Maybe playing half man-to-man and half zone will help us."
A three-pointer by Fran DeBlasi gave Wagner a 67-42 lead with 8: 50 to go, but the Mount (10-12, 6-8 Northeast Conference) had two late scoring spurts. The first was a 14-3 run that cut the margin to 70-56 with 4: 42 to play, the second a 10-5 run to narrow the gap to 78-66 with just under a minute to go.
The Mountaineers went on an 8-0 run (two three-pointers and a layup by Bethel) midway through the first half to take a 23-16 lead, but the Seahawks chipped away and, thanks to a three-point play by Dan Seigle and a three-pointer by Darius Wright in the last 20 seconds, took a 33-28 lead into intermission.
"The end of the first half killed us," Phelan said.
Capstraw agreed, saying he urged his players to build on the lead, something the Seahawks (8-13, 5-8 NEC) have struggled with.
Both teams shot poorly in the first half, with Wagner hitting 41 percent and the Mount just 39 percent.
Pub Date: 2/09/97