EMMITSBURG -- Donnie Carr, who was voted Pennsylvania high school player of the year last season, lived up to his advance billing by scoring 36 points in his college debut for La Salle at Mount St. Mary's last night.
But it was a less ballyhooed freshman, Rob Balgac of Belgrade, Yugoslavia, who made only one field goal and scored a modest 11 points, who had the final say in the Mountaineers' pulsating 89-87 victory before 1,730.
After Carr made a three-pointer to tie it at 87, Balgac dribbled almost the length of the court before launching a shot as he was fouled by Olof Landgren with three seconds left.
The referee waived off the successful shot, but Balgac, who learned the game playing in a Belgrade youth league, made the two deciding free throws.
There was still time for the Explorers to race downcourt and get the ball to Carr. But the Philadelphia product, who was rated the second-best player in the city behind Kobe Bryant, now with the Los Angeles Lakers, proved he was human.
The 6-foot-2 guard fired up an air ball at the buzzer. La Salle coach Speedy Morris tried to catch the referees as they left the floor, but his screams went unheard.
vTC "I'm not saying their guy [Balgac] wasn't fouled, but you've got to be consistent," said Morris, whose Explorers were 6-24 last season.
For Mount St. Mary's coach Jim Phelan, it was career win No. 759 and his second straight over his alma mater. But while his Mountaineers bounced back from an opening-game loss to Penn State, he acknowledged, "We were fortunate to get away with this one tonight. We kept letting them get back in the game."
But the Mountaineers, who used a small lineup in the closing minutes, out-hustled the Explorers, winning the rebound battle 46-31, with another precocious freshman, Gregory Harris of DeMatha, grabbing a game-high 10 to go with his 19 points.
"Our interior defense was terrible," said Morris. "We let them shoot 50 percent from the field [28-56] and they made 24 of 31 free throws. Add in their rebounding, and how can we expect to win?"
But Carr almost won the game by himself, hitting 12 of 25 shots, including 4-for-7 from three-point territory. He was also eight of 11 from the line.
"The whole world wanted Carr," said Phelan, usually a strong recruiter out of his hometown Philadelphia area. "Outside of Bryant, he was the plum."
La Salle got fortunate when Carr told recruiters early on that he wanted to stay close to home after graduating from Roman Catholic, where he averaged 25.3 points his senior season.
Of course, Balgac, a slender 6-7 forward, did not elect to stay in his war-torn country.
"I heard about Rob from an assistant coach at a black college who said he couldn't recruit him," said Phelan. "I went up to
Canada to see him play, and that's how he wound up here."
While Carr dominated the La Salle offense, the Mountaineers displayed a balanced attack, putting five players in double figures.
Gerben Van Dorpe, the 6-11 junior center, scored 15 and Silas Cheung added 13.
Pub Date: 12/01/96