EMMITSBURG -- On the day he was denied admission to the Basketball Hall of Fame, Mount St. Mary's coach Jim Phelan became the sport's fourth-biggest winner.
Phelan passed Oklahoma State's Hank Iba with his 768th victory last night, a 65-51 Northeast Conference decision over Marist before 1,800 at Knott Arena.
Marist coach Dave Magarity said he "was shocked" by the omission of Phelan. "It's a travesty that he's not in. What does he have to do, win 1,000 games?"
The latest was the fifth straight win for Mount St. Mary's (10-10, 6-6), which has climbed to .500 for the first time since Dec. 28.
It was a disjointed game, as the Mount seemed to play down to the level of the Red Foxes, who are 0-9 on the road and have dropped six straight.
"This wasn't pretty, but it was a win," Phelan said. "We're not going to have too many pretty ones."
The Mount never trailed after the first eight minutes and did an excellent defensive job on Marist's three-point marksman, Manny Otero, in the second half.
Still, the Red Foxes sliced into a 45-30 deficit determinedly, scoring 14 of the next 17 points before Mount St. Mary's reloaded, with Gerben Van Dorpe (13 points) doing the bulk of the scoring.
"I was pleased defensively. We knew we had to take care of Otero," Phelan said. "But we've got to get people to play a little better than we have. We can't seem to click."
"The first five or six minutes of the second half is the ugliest basketball I've seen in a while [from his team]," Magarity said. "Then, we did what we had to do to make it a game, but like so many others, it ends up a double-digit loss."
Point guard Gregory Harris had a stellar all-around game (12 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists) for the Mount, which held Marist to 27.6 percent shooting after the break.
Phelan said he is not surprised by the team's current run.
"I was surprised we got in a hole early on this season," he said. "I xTC thought we were playing pretty good. But that first conference loss took a lot out of us."
Pub Date: 2/04/97