St. Francis chills Mount late, 72-63 Mount St. Mary's drops into first-place tie in NEC

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

EMMITSBURG -- It was a women's basketball showdown for first place in the Northeast Conference that lived up to all expectations until Mount St. Mary's went cold from the field in the final 2: 20 and handed St. Francis (Pa.) a 72-63 victory.

The Mount had been virtually matching baskets with the Red Flash all day in front of an enthusiastic home crowd at the Knott Arena and was trailing 62-60 with 2: 38 left in the game when disaster struck in the form of a 1-for-9 shooting performance.

St. Francis rebounded all the Mount misses and came racing down the court against a slow retreating defense for several high-percentage scoring opportunities.

The Mount players were forced to foul the fast-breaking Red Flash in the final minutes, and the visitors hit eight of eight from the line and a layup to account for a final 10-3 run.

In all, St. Francis was 27 of 30 from the line to eight of 12 for the Mount (8-7, 4-1), which fell into a first-place tie with the Red Flash (9-6, 4-1).

Sophomore forward Jess Zinobile scored 26 points, including 12 of 13 from the line, to lead St. Francis to its fifth straight victory over the Mount.

Zinobile also led all rebounders in the game with 11.

"Zinobile Zinobile Zinobile. That was the story of the game," said veteran Mount coach Bill Sheahan, who is 365-98 in 17 seasons at the fifth-smallest Division I school in the country. "We didn't have a single player to stop her or defend her. We wanted to box her out and deny her the ball but never did it. She's a talented player and I love to watch her play as long as it's not against us."

If the 5-foot-10 Zinobile wasn't beating the Mount to the basket, it was 5-7 Red Flash junior guard Kristy Balliet who was breaking free for layups on the way to 22 points.

L Sheahan said the reason for the defensive lapses was simple.

"We had a defense planned for the game, but we didn't run it," said Sheahan. "I wanted to have a soft press in the first half and a full-court press in the second half. We were yelling from the sidelines to press, and the players didn't do it."

Megan Gardiner, a 5-10 junior forward, led the Mount with 20 points and 10 rebounds, and freshman forward Kia Williams scored 17 and had 10 rebounds.

Sophomore guard Lauren Menichini added 10 points, six assists and two steals for the Mount.

Sheahan, whose long-range goal is to meet the Red Flash in the NEC tournament championship game, attributed the late fade yesterday to two factors.

"Our two freshmen [Williams and Deanna Butters] forgot what offense we were running and fatigue set in," he said. "It was our third game in eight days."

Pub Date: 1/18/98

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