BY JAKE OSWALT
Mount St. Mary’s feasts on teams that turn over the ball against its full-court press.
St. Francis was another team that fell victim to the “Havoc” style the Mountaineers play with, as the Red Flash lost, 69-58, in a Northeast Conference game.
In the first half, Mount St. Mary’s forced St. Francis to play their up-tempo style, an approach the Red Flash is unfamiliar playing against. SFU’s youth showed as it turned over the ball 12 times in the first half.
“There was a key statistic that really set the tone, they had 29 of their 32 points off of our turnovers and second chances,” St. Francis coach Rob Krimmel said. “When you have long shots, a lot of times you have long rebounds. We were getting stops, it was just that second wave that got them to the free throw line and gave them some easy looks close to the basket. Offensively, we were too tentative. We knew that they were going to press. As a staff you try to prepare your guys. It’s hard to simulate that (Mount St. Mary’s style of play) in practice, it really is.”
The Mountaineers (10-13, 5-7) went on a 15-0 run to take a 21-7 lead with 6:45 in the first half in part to freshman point guard Shivaughn Wiggins’ five points. Wiggins finished with a game-high 22 points and he made all 10 of his free throws.
The teams each scored 11 points the rest of the way as Mount St. Mary’s took a 32-18 lead into halftime.
“One of the things we’ve really been focusing in on is converting turnovers and trying to limit their (St. Francis’) transition offense,” said Mount St. Mary’s coach Jamion Christian, in his first year after coming over from Virginia Commonwealth, who originated the “Havoc” style of play that led the team to the 2011 Final Four. “We did a great job of that tonight. We were able to force some live ball turnovers and really close down traps the best we’ve done all year. I think because of that we really got our juices flowing early and I think that continued on throughout the course of the game.”
St. Francis (2-21, 2-10) reserve freshman guard Ben Millaud-Meunier gave the team a spark off the bench by completing a 4-point play and a 3-point play within 2:05 of the second half to cut the lead to 11. Mount St. Mary’s willed its style of play to lead by as much as 21 in the second half.
The theme about the young St. Francis team all year long is it will not quit. That was evidenced once again Saturday night. A layup by Earl Brown cut the deficit to 57-48 with 8:08 left to cap a 9-0 run. That was as close as the Red Flash could come as Mount St. Mary’s was a perfect 12-for-12 from the free-throw line in the second half.
Millaud-Meunier led the Red Flash with 15 points, followed by Anthony Ervin’s 12 and Brown’s 10 points. Mount St. Mary’s finished with 28 points off turnovers and 19 second-chance points.
to provide the difference in the game.
“We had 12 turnovers in the first half, seven in the second half and that had everything to do with confidence,” Krimmel said. “Our guys were more confident, guys were shooting the shots they were supposed to shoot instead of being tentative and the game of basketball cannot be played tentative. You have to be aggressive from the tip and we waited too long to turn it on. We got to grow from this. Hopefully our guys will learn from that, you got to play basketball with confidence.”