Mount makes quick exit from NEC tournament

Butler scores 20 points, but poor shooting costly in 64-52 loss to Monmouth

College Basketball

March 07, 2004|By Tom Dowd | Tom Dowd,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

NEW YORK - It took Mount St. Mary's four years to get back to the Northeast Conference men's basketball tournament. The young Mountaineers didn't stay long.

Battling a dismal shooting night that left them playing catch-up from the opening minutes, the eighth-seeded Mountaineers ended their season with a 64-52 loss to No. 1 Monmouth at Wagner College's Spiro Center on Staten Island.

In Milan Brown's first season as coach after Jim Phelan's 49-year run, the Mountaineers sent out three sophomores and a freshman among their starting five and had to win their final three regular-season games to force an eighth-place tie with Sacred Heart and secure their first NEC tournament berth since 2000.

"The thing I was hoping would help us is we've been playing do or die for the last week and a half," Brown said. "I told the guys I'm extremely proud of them. We came a long way. It's just the first step for us."

The Mountaineers were off the mark from the start, making just one of their first 13 shots and missing their first six three-point attempts. They shot just 30 percent for the game. Sophomore guard Landy Thompson, the NEC's third-leading scorer at 18.2 points per game, shot 1-for-13 and finished with two points.

"I thought Monmouth did a good job," Brown said. "Their intensity level was good and they got to our shooters and then we missed a couple of open shots."

Charles Cook's two three-pointers sparked a spurt that got the Mount back within 16-15 after facing an early 10-2 deficit. But Monmouth's Dwayne Byfield made four three-pointers in the last five minutes of the half to give the Hawks a 35-25 halftime lead.

The Mountaineers opened the second half in a similar drought. Kiel Butler's put-back 30 seconds into the second half cut Monmouth's lead to 35-27, but the Mount missed its next 11 field-goal attempts over an 11-minute stretch as the Hawks took a 49-32 advantage.

The Mount's last surge was led by Butler - two three-pointers and eight points in a 12-0 run that cut Monmouth's lead to 49-44 with 6:46 to go.

"Making that push wasn't the hard part," Brown said. "The hard part was how long can you sustain it until they figure it out."

Not long enough. Monmouth forward Blake Hamilton rallied the Hawks with a layup and free throw. He added two free throws and a put-back for seven straight Monmouth points that steadied the Hawks.

Butler had a game-high 20 points and was the only Mountaineer to score in double figures. Hamilton led Monmouth with 19 points and nine rebounds.

"This one's on us," Brown said. "We got beat by a better team tonight."

MOUNT ST. MARY'S - Butler 6-14 6-7 20, Cook 2-9 2-3 8, Dodson 1-1 0-0 2, Kearse 2-7 1-2 6, Thompson 1-13 0-0 2, Atangana 2-2 0-0 4, Sumner 0-0 1-2 1, Johnson 2-6 4-4 9, Durr 0-0 0-0 0, Epps 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 16-53 14-18 52. MONMOUTH - Hamilton 5-10 9-15 19, Kaplan 1-1 2-2 4, Boxler 2-4 4-4 8, Azzarelli 1-4 1-5 3, Byfield 5-14 2-2 16, Delic 2-5 2-4 7, Alston 0-1 0-0 0, Kenny 0-4 2-2 2, Anderson 2-3 0-0 5. Totals 18-46 22-34 64. Half-Monmouth, 35-25. 3-point goals-MSM 6-23 (Butler 2-7, Cook 2-6, Kearse 1-1, Thompson 0-7, Johnson 1-2), M 6-19 (Azzarelli 0-2, Byfield 4-9, Delic 1-4, Kenny 0-2, Anderson 1-2). Fouled out-Kearse, Byfield. Rebounds-MSM 35 (Butler 8), M 40 (Hamilton 9). Assists-MSM 7 (Thompson 5), M 10 (Azzarelli 3). A-N/A.

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