Mount tops Army, 70-66, ending nine-game skid

EMMITSBURG — EMMITSBURG -- The Mount St. Mary's Holiday Tournament has been good to the host school since it began during the 1979-80 season.

And form held up last night at Knott Arena when the Mountaineers fought off a determined Army team for a 70-66 overtime victory, their first of the year.


After absorbing four defeats on the road -- all home openers for their opponents -- the Mounts used the one-on-one skill of freshman guard Chris McGuthrie and a resurgence by Kevin Booth to end a nine-game losing streak dating back to Feb. 8.

Mount St. Mary's (1-4) will meet Delaware in tonight's 8 o'clock championship game. The Blue Hens overcame UNC-Greensboro, 67-60, in last night's first game.


McGuthrie, who led all scorers with 24 points, had a chance to win the game in regulation for the Mount, but missed a jumper from the side with three seconds left.

But the home team never trailed in the overtime after Booth scored the first basket on a backdoor pass from Michael Watson.

Booth went scoreless for the first time in his career in the Mounts' previous game, a 56-52 loss at Loyola Dec. 12. But he bounced back with 16 points, including his only three-pointer that raised the lead to 61-56 and gave the Mounts firm control.

"I felt I was in the groove a little bit," said Booth. "Hopefully, it will continue. Before Christmas, I just wasn't with it. I did a lot of work on my jumper during the break and I'm feeling more comfortable."

Army (1-5) rallied to 67-64 on a three-pointer by Alex Morris (22 points) with 30 seconds left in overtime, but McGuthrie put it away with three free throws, the final one after a Booth steal.

Mount St. Mary's has won 10 of its previous 12 holiday tournaments and has a 23-2 record in the event.

Coach Jim Phelan said after the game that next season the tournament will become a tipoff event to prevent the long siege of traveling tostart the season.

"We're thinking about changing it around," he said. "We need some home games at the start instead of four straight on the road."


Army kept in contention throughout the second half on the inside game of forward David Ardayfio, who accounted for 10 straight points at one juncture.

Ardayfio finished with 19 points, but Chad Stull and Watson finally cooled him off and Ardayfio did not score in the last 7 1/2 minutes.

The 694th triumph of Phelan's career was a long time coming, and the coach said, "Beating Army is a major accomplishment for us."

In the opener, Delaware's pressure defense and 6-11 center Spencer Dunkley broke open a close game midway through the second half.

The Blue Hens (5-3) roared away on a 14-2 run for a 50-37 cushion, then withstood a three-point barrage by UNC-Greensboro, a second-year Division I school.

UNC-Greensboro (1-6) cut the dificit to 59-55 with 1:47 left, but five free throws by Brian Pearl and a slam by Anthony Wright after a Spartans turnover iced it.