St. Francis hands Mount 88-80 defeat Red Flash's big 2nd half offsets Hayden's early run

January 18, 1998|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

EMMITSBURG -- The winningest active coach in the country, Jim Phelan, stood outside the Mount St. Mary's locker room last night and sipped on a diet soda.

The more soda he drank, the less Phelan seemed to enjoy the taste, and the harder it was for him to accept an 88-80 loss to St. Francis (Pa.) in a Northeast Conference game before 2,458 at Knott Arena.

"It gripes me to lose at home," said Phelan, who is 778-421 in 44 years at the Mount. "We never used to lose here. Without Newton Gayle in the lineup, we're going to go south if our perimeter game is off the least little bit. This is the fourth game we've lost this season that we felt we should have won."

Without Gayle, a 6-foot-8, 235-pound senior center who is out for five weeks with a fractured ankle, Phelan and the Mount (6-8, 2-3) found the going tough against one of the top teams in the conference.

The Red Flash (11-4, 5-1) trails first-place Fairleigh Dickinson (6-1) by a half-game in the NEC.

"We had our best crowd of the season and wanted to show them our best basketball," said Mount junior forward Tony Hayden. "But we had no guts in the second half. We didn't come out fired up in the second half, and it wasn't fair to our fans."

nTC Hayden had hurt St. Francis in the first half with a near-perfect performance on the way to 19 points and a 40-32 Mount lead.

But he seldom touched the ball in the second half and scored only two points as the Red Flash used a strong inside game, excellent free-throw shooting and a game-breaking, 18-7 run midway through the second half to win going away.

St. Francis hit 19 of 23 free-throw attempts in the second half and kept pounding the ball inside to Sam Sutton, Eric Taylor and Emmanuel Adekunle for crucial baskets.

Sutton, Taylor and Adekunle combined for 54 points and 18 rebounds.

The Red Flash also got a big lift from senior guard Walt DeVan, who came off the bench to score 20 points and give the visitors five players in double figures.

Sutton had 21, DeVan 20, Taylor 17, Adekunle 16 and Jamal Ragland 10 as St. Francis played textbook basketball most of the evening, swinging the ball inside and out and looking for the open man.

In contrast, the Mount was a little too impatient at times, trying to match St. Francis scoring runs with three-point shots.

"We got out of our offense too early in the second half," said Mount sophomore guard Gregory Harris, who had an off-night with 12 points, five turnovers, four assists and three steals.

Harris entered the game as the leading Mount scorer with a 15.5 average.

"I realized it wasn't my night when the ref hit me with technical for basically nothing," said Harris, who was assessed the foul with 2: 44 left in the first half. "All I did was tell one of their players that he was going to be called for a foul every time if he kept holding onto my jersey like that."

Hayden's 21 points led the Mount, and Eric Bethel added 18.

St. Francis coach Tom McConnell said it was nice to beat Phelan on his home court, but it is never too sweet beating the Mount St. Mary's legend.

"He's just such a nice man compared to a lot of coaches and he's so smart the way he utilizes his talent that you can't help loving the guy," McConnell said. "Other coaches, you just want to beat them so badly."

Pub Date: 1/18/98

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