R. Morris' late burst pushes back Mount

Defending champions routed in semifinals, 80-61

Northeast men

March 05, 2000|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

TRENTON, N.J. -- Robert Morris' late-game flurry left Mount St. Mary's dazed and out of the Northeast Conference tournament last night.

In six minutes, the Colonials (18-11) hit the Mountaineers (9-20) with everything they could muster during a 22-4 run that rendered almost meaningless the final 4: 28 of an 80-61 win, a game that was a nailbiter in the middle of the second half.

Robert Morris' main weapon -- as in its first-round win over St. Francis (Pa.) -- was Gene Nabors, who lit up the Mount for 35 points. Nabors, who had 38 points against St. Francis, scored 11 of his points during the late spurt, which included 15 unanswered points.

According to Nabors, who shot 4-for-18 against the Mount in last year's tournament loss, his team decided to turn up the heat on defense once the Mountaineers took a 49-48 lead with 10: 48 left.

The Mount hit only two of 15 field-goal attempts the rest of the game.

"We knew that we needed stops," Nabors said. "That's when it started and got us going."

At one point, Nabors took six straight shots -- making four of them on the way to 20 points over the final 9: 01, on breakaway layups or coming off screens for jumpers that the Mount hoped to avoid.

"The way he got his points -- layups, put-backs -- I would have liked to have seen him work for his 35 points," said Mount's Gregory Harris, who ended his Mount career with 27 points on 6-for-19 shooting.

Wesley Fluellen's effort was also crucial, with all nine of his points coming during the run, including a layup at the 4: 53 mark that made the score 66-53 and signaled the end of the Mountaineers' season.

"When the lead got to 11 and 13, we knew we were in trouble," Mount coach Jim Phelan said, "because they take care of the ball and also shoot free throws well."

Led by Harris and Terence Wilson -- who finished with 11 points -- Mount St. Mary's seemed poised to make things interesting in the NEC tournament for the second straight season.

Coming off what Robert Morris coach Jim Boone called a display of "as much heart and courage as I've seen" in a win over Fairleigh Dickinson, Mount St. Mary's shrugged off an early 8-2 deficit and, down 32-29 at the half, scored the first seven points of the second half to take a 36-32 lead with 18: 50 left.

The game stayed within three points either way for the next eight minutes before the Mountaineers "hit the wall," which was nothing new, according to Phelan.

"The latter part of the game was like the whole season," Phelan said. "Once they got going, we said, `Uh oh,' and we couldn't stop the rain as it kept pouring on us."

Said Harris: "It was just like watching sand go out of an hourglass. You're just hoping that something miraculous is going to happen."

MOUNT ST. MARY'S -- Wilson 4-8 2-2 11, Rivera 0-3 0-0 0, Cook 2-4 1-2 5, Harris 6-19 13-13 27, Herbert 3-9 2-2 8, Balgac 1-7 0-0 2, Lloyd 2-4 0-0 4, Marvray 1-1 0-0 2, Springer 0-0 0-0 0, Bajornas 1-2 0-0 2, Moore 0-0 0-0 0, Grace 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-57 18-19 61.

ROBERT MORRIS -- Welsch 2-4 2-4 7, Pettyjohn 6-14 0-0 12 , Smith 1-3 4-4 6, Nabors 13-21 5-5 35, Jackson 2-4 4-6 8, Covert 1-3 0-0 3, Fluellen 4-4 0-1 9. Totals 29-53 15-20 80.

Halftime--Robert Morris 32-29. 3-point goals--Mount 3-14 (Harris 2-5, Wilson 1-2, Rivera 0-1, Herbert 0-1, Lloyd 0-2, Balgac 0-3), RM 7-14 (Nabors 4-8, Fluellen 1-1, Welsch 1-2, Covert 1-3). Fouled out--Covert. Rebounds--Mount 31 (Cook 6), RM 35 (Smith 10). Assists--Mount 10 (Wilson, Rivera, Harris 2), RM 13 (Welsch 5). Total fouls--Mount 17, RM 14. A--1,955.

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