EMMITSBURG - Down the bench in street clothes and ties - victims of injuries and academic woes - were as many players as venerable coach Jim Phelan could floor for Mount St. Mary's last night.
With their roster so short-handed and Central Connecticut State so talented, the Mount had far too many obstacles to confront and lost Phelan's 48th home opener, 80-69, at Knott Arena.
An eight-man unit tried to counter one of the Northeast Conference's top teams as well as it could, but Central Connecticut built a 19-point lead and coasted home to its fourth victory in five games.
"We know we're undermanned," Phelan said. "It's a problem because we're not able to have the intense practices you need to keep us in shape. We played hard, but we have to continue that kind of intensity for an entire game."
After first-semester finals are concluded this week, the winless Mount (0-4, 0-3 NEC) may regain some of its depth, including a gifted swingman in Keith Price.
Phelan is also expecting to see guard Esmond Marvray (knee) and forward Jason Epps (orbital fracture) before his team encounters archrival Loyola eight days from now.
Central Connecticut, winner of two consecutive tournaments, trailed 23-22 before taking control of the game with 6-foot-9, 280-pound Corsley Edwards (Lake Clifton) and guard Damian Battles leading the assault.
The difference grew to 72-53 before the Blue Devils became content to erode the clock and work on some offensive weaves in preparation for tomorrow's showdown at UMBC.
The Mount kept battling - but short-handed and tiring - the quest was in vain.
"With the eight guys we have, we can win. It's just a matter of coming out and playing smart," said Mount guard Jerry Lloyd, who had a double double with 11 points and 11 assists. "It's only four games into the season. We're working for a goal in March, not in January."
Forward Pat Atangana pitched in 21 points and 13 rebounds. Atangana has been troubled by fluid on the knee.