EMMITSBURG -- It hasn't been easy for Mount St. Mary's since the school joined NCAA Division I basketball six years ago.
The Mountaineers have faced one formidable early-season grind after another against primarily heavy-duty opposition on the road.
But this year, Mount St. Mary's has opened with four straight games at Knott Arena and the result is a 3-1 record after last night's 74-66 victory over struggling Bucknell.
Mount St. Mary's trailed by one point briefly in the second half and led by as many as nine while unveiling point guard Riley Inge.
Inge, who had to sit out the first semester, showed few visible signs of needing much practice, providing a spark for the Mount in a less than artistic performance by both teams.
Bucknell (1-5) had won the last three meetings between these two by average of 23.7 points, but has beaten only Division III Marymount this season.
Chris McGuthrie led the Mount with 23 points and Inge had 11 while playing 20 minutes.
The two teams played the first 10 minutes in a fog, the result of long breaks for both for semester examinations.
Mount St. Mary's had eight turnovers and Bucknell six during a span in which the teams combined for only 10 points.
But the game took a decided upturn when Inge made his first appearance of the season for the Mountaineers midway through the half.
A high school All-American at Paint Branch in Montgomery County, Inge hit a spinning, off-balance layup and then a jumper to immediately get into the flow and the Mount went on to a 33-28 halftime lead.
Inge was 3-for-3 from the field with two rebounds, three assists and two steals, the second just before the intermission when he flicked the ball to Michael Watson for a half-ending dunk.
Chris Simpson, Bucknell's top returning scorer, tested his ailing feet and started for the first time all season.
He played well, scoring 10 points to match McGuthrie of the Mount for the high at the half.
After Simpson beat a press to give the Bison a 9-8 advantage, the lead changed hands on every bucket until Simpson dunked after a turnover to put Bucknell ahead, 21-18.
But the Mount recovered by outscoring Bucknell 15-7 the rest of the way, with Watson accounting for seven of the points.
Bucknell hit only 11 of 30 shots (36.7 percent) and committed 10 turnovers in the first 20 minutes. Mount St. Mary's finished with 14 giveaways but shot better (42 percent) and had a 25-16 edge in rebounding.
The Bison had not played in 11 days while the Mountaineers had been off for a week after absorbing their first loss, 85-79, to Loyola last Saturday.