EMMITSBURG -- Rider made its final Northeast Conference appearance at Knott Arena last night and left with a good impression.
One of Mount St. Mary's best rivals in recent seasons, Rider pulled away in the final nine minutes and scored a 71-62 victory before 3,070 fans, Knott's largest turnout of the season.
The Broncs are headed for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference next season, so last night's game will probably signal the end of a spirited series.
"I'm going to miss coming here," Rider coach Kevin Bannon said. "We probably had less success here [2-4 record] than anywhere else in the league, but there is a lot of student involvement and enthusiasm, just like at our place.
"But Jim [Mount coach Jim Phelan] hasn't called me about any future games and I don't want him to call me."
Rider (6-8, 3-3) knocked the Mount out of the NEC tournament last March with a 74-70 upset at Knott.
"We just got out-toughed," Phelan said. "They played us in our faces and we couldn't shoot. We just don't seem to be able to reach when things are going bad."
Phelan said he will continue to search for answers in personnel combinations among his young players.
"We keep going down the bench looking for people and we're going to keep shopping. We're just not getting anything in tough games."
Swingman Greg Burston (game-high 23 points) supplied most of the second-half offense for the Broncs, who trailed 48-47 after a three-pointer by Mount guard Gregory Harris.
Rider then scored 14 of the next 15 points to put the game away.
But Bannon believed the turning point came earlier -- after Mount St. Mary's (5-9, 1-5) had zipped to a 22-11 cushion in the first nine minutes.
"I was real happy the way we responded to that run," said Bannon, who lost center Kevin McPeek to a knee injury and dismissed all-league forward Charles Smith from the team.
"It would have been tough to come back against them if we hadn't finished the half that way. We're a young team and we play with a lot of emotion, so that gave us a big lift."
Rider ended the first half with a 17-6 run to tie the score at 28.
The Broncs' defense tightened against the Mount's shooters after a string of three-pointers had accounted for the early success.
"They got way too many good looks in the first half," Bannon said. "And it is a team that scares you because so many different people can lead their scoring. They just lack experience."
Mount St. Mary's shot only 39.3 percent from the field, 35.5 in the first half after cooling off.
Not much came from inside, where starting forwards Newton Gayle and Tony Hayden combined for only three buckets. Center Gerben Van Dorpe scored most of his points from outside.
"We were getting shots in there, but nothing particularly good was happening," Phelan said. "I keep trying to think we're going to get an inside game, but it hasn't come."
The defeat was the sixth in the past seven games for the Mount, which finishes its homestand tomorrow night against St. Francis (N.Y.).
Phelan said he may go with a smaller lineup.
"I guarantee you we won't stay with the status quo," he said.
RIDER -- Perry 4-7 0-0 8, Charles 2-5 0-0 4, Lancey 4-7 2-2 10, Finefrock 2-7 3-6 9, Burston 10-18 2-2 23, Bayha 0-0 1-2 1, Toumou 1-2 1-2 3, Fisicaro 5-9 0-0 11, Stansel 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 29-56 9-14 71.
MOUNT ST. MARY'S -- Gayle 2-4 1-2 5, Hayden 1-6 1-3 4, Van Dorpe 6-13 0-1 14, Harris 5-14 1-2 14, Conwell 5-11 1-4 12, Balgac 1-2 0-0 3, Bethel 2-2 0-0 5, Brown 0-0 0-0 0, Cheung 0-5 0-0 0, Cook 2-4 1-1 5. Totals 24-61 5-13 62.
Halftime--R 28, MSM 28. 3-point goals-- R 4-14 (Finefrock 2-6, Burston 1-3, Toumou 0-1, Fisicaro 1-4), MSM 9-23 (Hayden 1-2, Van Dorpe 2-3, Harris 3-7, Conwell 1-4, Balgac 1-2, Bethel 1-1, Cheung 0-4). Fouled out--None. Rebounds--R 41 (Lacey 7), MSM 31 (Gayle, Conwell 7). Assists--R 14 (Fisicaro 4), MSM 12 (Harris 7). Total fouls--R 17, MSM 16. A-- 3,070.
Pub Date: 1/19/97