Harris hot as Mount tops UMBC by 77-73

`Natural shooter' hits 31, sets school assist mark

January 20, 2000|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

EMMITSBURG -- A combination of a thin UMBC bench, Mount St. Mary's will, and Gregory Harris' hot second-half shooting settled the latest edition of the teams' Northeast Conference rivalry last night at Knott Arena.

Harris scored 22 points after intermission, finished with 31 and broke the school's career-assist record for good measure, as the Mount rallied for a 77-73 victory and snapped UMBC's three-game winning streak in the series.

"I've been waiting for Greg to do exactly what he did," said Mount coach Jim Phelan, whose 4-10 team has won three of its last four starts. "He's a natural shooter who has not been shooting. I've been on his case to shoot. If somebody gave me the green light, I'd be firing away."

Because of three key defections (Rich Giddens, Nick Grella and Tim Hyland) from the defending NEC regular-season champions, the Retrievers have been playing short-handed. The five UMBC starters scored all but five of the team's points, and six players accumulated all but six of the minutes played last night.

But UMBC (7-7, 2-3) hung in the game until the bitter finish, missing a chance to tie when three-point attempts by 40-minute guard Terence Ward twice rimmed off in the final 30 seconds.

His reserves already depleted, Retrievers coach Tom Sullivan was forced into a zone defense when two of his key front-line operatives, Brad Martin and Isaac Green, accumulated four personals each.

Harris then turned on the trey machine, and the Mount gradually took control down the stretch. A three-pointer by Harris broke a 69-69 stalemate.

Then he added four free throws, two after twisting an ankle, to safely hold the Retrievers at bay.

"We had to pick our poison," Sullivan said of going to the zone. "The zone became necessary because of the fouls, and Harris came up shooting big. If we go too deep into our rotation now, we're going to get hurt, so we're trying as hard as we can with what we have.

"But don't shortchange the Mount. It was a matter of intensity. They made a great run, got charged up, and came after us."

The Retrievers shot 69.2 percent from the field in the first half and eased into a 39-30 advantage, as the Mount collected just two field goals in the final 15 minutes. Nine-of-11 free-throw shooting by the Mount prevented UMBC from running away and hiding.

Ward, a junior, scored 13 to eclipse 1,000 for his career, and Harris' three assists raised his career total to 474.

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