EMMITSBURG -- Mount St. Mary's got what it needed badly last night -- a victory. But it won't go into Mount annals as one of the most impressive.
With four late free throws by Greg Harris and Tony Hayden, the Mount put away Monmouth, the cellar-dwelling team of the Northeast Conference, 58-54, at Knott Arena to end a five-game losing streak.
But Jim Phelan's team won't send any shudders through the rest of the league with that result.
"Didn't we try again?" Phelan said, alluding to last Saturday's blown lead in the final minute against Wagner, which won in overtime. "We almost did what we had to do [to lose]."
Fortunately for the Mount (8-14, 5-7), Monmouth is even more accustomed to the mode of playing almost everyone tough, only to bow in the end.
"They're playing so much better than they were earlier in the year," said Phelan of Monmouth (3-19, 2-10), which lost at home to the Mount, 78-61. "But they somehow manage to lose them."
Mount St. Mary's had a 54-47 edge with three minutes to play against the Hawks, who have lost their entire starting five from an 18-11 team, their long-time coach, Wayne Szoke, and a slew of close NEC games.
But guard Mike Perno drilled a three-pointer to bring the Hawks to within 56-54 with 20 seconds left.
Newton Gayle then missed the front end of a one-and-one, giving Monmouth a final chance to tie or win. But a short jumper by Joe Fermino bounded off the rim, and Hayden sank the ensuing foul shots to ice it.
Mount St. Mary's played without Rob Balgac (flu), who had combined for 36 points and 17 rebounds in two straight starts.
Irv Conwell (Oakland Mills) made up the slack with a strong floor game (four steals, four assists).
"We needed to win and I needed to play," said Conwell, who has seen restricted playing time.
Pub Date: 2/12/98