Quick start not enough for Mount women, 61-44

9-point lead evaporates, as St. Francis (Pa.) cruises in NEC tournament opener

March 06, 2004|By Lary Bump | Lary Bump,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

NEW YORK - For a flash, it appeared that Mount St. Mary's bad recent basketball fortunes against St. Francis (Pa.) would be reversed.

The eighth-seeded Mountaineers reached unaccustomed heights in their Northeast Conference tournament quarterfinal, taking an 11-2 lead over St. Francis, which went through the NEC regular season 18-0. After that, it was all Red Flash, as the champs broke open a close game right after halftime and won, 61-44.

Senior Adrienne Harris' layup gave the Mountaineers, who finished 9-19, that nine-point lead 6 minutes, 22 seconds into the game.

Said Harris: "When we were up in the first half, we knew we could do it. But as far as continuing it, we knew they were the champs and they were going to fight through it."

The Mountaineers had just 33 points in the final 33 minutes and first-team All-NEC player Myriam Baccouche didn't make a field goal until just 10:29 remained in the game.

Conference Player of the Year Beth Swink put the Red Flash (23-5) back on track with two layups to cut the lead to 11-6. The Mount built its lead back to as many as six points, but a three-pointer by Tonjee Ward tied the game 19-19 with 6:30 left in the half, and reserve Regina Schlichter put St. Francis ahead to stay 40 seconds later.

Still, the Mount went into halftime trailing just 25-22. But Swink scored four points to start the second half, and Ward, better known for her defense, had nine in a row to build the Red Flash lead to 38-28.

Said first-year St. Francis coach Jill Poe: "We really wanted to put the pressure back on them to score. They'd played five kids all 20 minutes, and we wanted to jump at them."

Mountaineers coach Vanessa Blair said: "When we had that lead, defensively we were able to switch, and offensively we were able to spread the floor. In the second half, they kind of figured us out, and they were able to switch players and keep their players fresh. It has definitely been difficult for us to play with just seven, eight, nine players, but we've never made that an excuse. I'm really proud of our ladies."

St. Francis' bench outscored the Mountaineers 12-0. Most impressive was stopping Baccouche, averaging 18 points a game.

"I don't think they were doing anything different to me," said the senior, who finished with 12 points while shooting 4-for-13 from the field. "I was rushing my shots a lot, which is a tribute to their defense. They didn't give me any time to shoot."

The 44 points tied the Mount's lowest output this season and were the second fewest allowed by the Red Flash.

Sophomore Samira Rashid led Mount St. Mary's with 13 points. Beth Foster added 10.

MOUNT ST. MARY'S-Baccouche 4-13 4-5 12, Butler 3-6 1-2 7, Foster 4-11 2-4 10, Rashid 5-13 1-2 13, Harris 1-11 0-0 2, Blain 0-0 0-0 0, Williams 0-0 0-0 0, Adams 0-1 0-0 0, Wike 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-55 8-13 44. ST. FRANCIS-Burnham 0-1 0-0 0, Swink 7-12 4-6 18, Bolten 1-5 0-0 3, Hewitt 2-6 0-0 4, Ward 11-18 0-1 24, Shrift 0-0 0-0 0, Enyeart 0-0 2-2 2, Gompers 0-0 0-0 0, Black 2-6 0-2 4, Schlichter 2-6 0-0 4, VanDerLeest 1-1 0-0 2, Hudson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-55 6-11 61. Half: St. Francis, 25-22. Rebounds-Mount St. Mary's 34 (Foster 11), St. Francis 37 (Swink, Hewitt, Black 7). Assists-Mount St. Mary's 7 (Rashid, Harris 3), St. Francis 16 (Hewitt 7). A-na.

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