Mount survives against UMBC

Retrievers rally, fall short in error-filled game, 53-49

February 16, 2000|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

It was so bad.

There is no other way to summarize the men's basketball game between Mount St. Mary's and UMBC last night in Catonsville, a game won, 53-49, by Mount St. Mary's behind 15 points from Gregory Harris.

Can you say, 29 combined turnovers in the first half? Forty percent shooting?

That wasn't half the story in a dud that was originally projected to be an epic battle between the two best teams in the Northeast Conference.

That's right, Mount St. Mary's (6-17, 5-9) -- coached by Don Anderson with Jim Phelan recovering from pneumonia -- was expected to win the NEC title after making it to the NCAAs last season. UMBC (9-15, 5-9), the league's defending regular-season champ, was picked as runner-up in October.

But instead of a game almost worthy of television, this one featured two teams now tied for eighth place fighting for a spot in the postseason tournament. "Right now, it's a battle for survival," Anderson said.

"It seemed like neither team played well," UMBC coach Tom Sullivan said. "But one team was going to come out with a win, and you want to make sure that your team is playing well when it counts."

Sullivan almost got his wish, his team coming back from a 10-point deficit to tie the game at 49-49 with 1: 40 left. But Aaron Herbert hit three of four free throws down the stretch to lift the Mount to its first win in seven games.

The remarkable thing about the number of turnovers in the first half was how few of them were forced. With neither team applying vise-like pressure, the 886 at the Retriever Activities Center saw balls kicked, bobbled, thrown away and sometimes thrown right at defenders.

Anderson said his team's debut of the full-court press was responsible for 15 slip-ups by UMBC -- "it hurt them because they weren't on the same page" -- though a lack of focus was the cause for 14 turnovers by the Mount.

Both teams needed 12-plus minutes to break into double-figures and the Mount barely hungon with a 25-23 halftime lead.

In the second half, the shooting worsened -- a combined 15-for-55 from the field.

The Retrievers were the most troubled, as their backcourt combo of Terence Ward and Justin Wilson continued to struggle, shooting 2-for-19 for the game.

The bright spots were Kennedy Okafor and Kerry Martin, who led with 18 and 11 points, respectively. Okafor lamented the lack of balance.

"We have to have a balance to win games, to go anywhere," Okafor said. "We had shots, but you have to concentrate and put the ball in the hole. It was a terrible performance."

For the Mount, Anderson -- who picked up his first win since the late 1980s -- said he expected Phelan to be back for tomorrow's game at Sacred Heart.

"Jim says he is [going], but we'll have to wait," Anderson said. "He's a tough man, so he doesn't want to quit."

MOUNT ST. MARY'S -- Wilson 3-9 2-2 9, Rivera 1-4 0-0 2, Cook 0-3 1-2 1 Harris 6-15 1-2 15, Herbert 2-9 5-6 9, Balgac 0-3 0-0 0, Lloyd 3-8 0-0 9, Marvray 0-0 2-4 2, Springer 2-5 2-5 6. Totals 17-56 13-21 53.

UMBC -- Martin 4-8 1-2 9, Green 0-0 0-0 0, Okafor 7-14 4-7 18, Wilson 2-8 0-0 5, Ward 0-11 4-4 4, Washington 0-1 0-0 0, Williams 0-0 0-0 0, Grannum 0-0 2-2 2, Martin 4-8 3-7 11. Totals 17-50 14-22 49.

Half--Mount St. Mary's, 25-23. 3-point goals--MSM 6-16 (Lloyd 3-5, Harris 2-6, Wilson 1-2, Balgac 0-3); UMBC 1-14 (Wilson 1-4, Washington 0-1, Ward 0-9). Rebounds--MSM 38 (Springer, Wilson 6); UMBC 42 (Wilson 11). Assists--MSM 7 (Harris, Herbert, Marvray 2); UMBC 7 (Martin 4). Total fouls--MSM 18, UMBC 20. A--886.

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