PITTSBURGH -- Mount St. Mary's had not played Pittsburgh in basketball for 83 years, and when they finally met last night, the result was the same as the last.
The Panthers -- 25-20 winners in 1913 at Emmitsburg -- spoiled the Mount's first visit to Fitzgerald Field House, 85-70, in a game much more one-sided than that final indicated.
Pitt (5-5) was up 77-50 with five minutes to play, and only a closing surge by the Mount against a sprinkling of reserves made it more respectable.
"They didn't surprise us with anything they did," said Mount coach Jim Phelan after his second straight defeat to the Big East Conference. "They obviously saw that the way to beat us was attack us hard and in numbers.
"I don't think they made an unusual amount of shots, but they got a lot of them."
Particularly at the free-throw line, where 7-foot Mark Blount went 13-for-18 and the Panthers made 28 of 39 overall, the offshoot of a vigorous attack on their offensive backboard.
There was a 17-point differential in the free throws, and it was well earned.
Mount St. Mary's (3-3) had a chance to be in serious contention at the half against an opponent shooting with lukewarm efficiency (32 percent).
But the Panthers cut off the Mount's three-point game (0-for-9 at halftime, 3-for-18 for the game), prospered at the line and turned the last two Mount possessions into turnovers, scoring two transition baskets off them to take a 34-26 lead.
It never got better for Phelan's team, a 91-66 victim at Villanova Saturday in the first game of this trip.
The Mount went more than six minutes without a field goal late in the second half and was blown out of the game by a series of Blount free throws and Pitt fast breaks.
"We got 53 points in transition according to our figures," said Pitt coach Ralph Willard. "And we did a great job of focusing on an excellent three-point shooting team."
Pitt goes on to Hawaii to face surprising Maryland in the first
round of the Rainbow Classic.
The game marked the Mount debut of guard Irv Conwell, who led Maryland high school players in scoring with a 27.6 average at Oakland Mills last season.
"He is a good quick defender, too, and we got him some time," said Phelan after Conwell had six points and five rebounds in 10 minutes.
Pub Date: 12/24/96