Memorable Games During Coach Phelan's Career...
Dec. 4, 1954, Memorial Gym...Mount St. Mary's
99, St. Francis (N.Y.) 84: This was Jim Phelan's first games as
head coach at the Mount and the game where the tradition of wearing
"They were a very good team with a 6-8 center and two good guards. They advanced to the NIT that season. They came in for the opening game and we were up by 28 with 10 minutes to play. I cleared the bench, and we ended up winning by 15. After the game, St. Francis believed that they were robbed."
Dec. 12, 1954, Memorial Gym...Mount St. Mary's 86, St. Francis (Pa.) 79: St. Francis came to Memorial Gym with All-American Maurice Stokes and tough squad. This game proved early on in coach Phelan's career that the Mount would be a tough team to beat.
"Maurice Stokes led that team and they came in with a talented team. They had played Villanova the night before in double overtime in Philadelphia and we played them at 2:00 p.m. the next day. It was an afternoon game, and we made sure that they were shooting into the sun in the second half. Stokes didn't have a great game, and we earned the win."
Mar. 5, 1955, Mason-Dixon Conference Championship Game...Mount St. Mary's 99, Loyola 93 (OT)...The Mount finished coach Phelan's first season on a 10-game winning streak and won the Mason-Dixon Conference with a thrilling overtime win at Loyola. The Mount was 22-3 that season, losing the three games by a combined 10 points.
"It was the championship in Mason-Dixon Conference that year...When I arrived here, Loyola held an advantage in the series with us, and our players were kind of afraid when playing them. It was a great game, and we ended winning 99-93 in overtime."
Mar. 1, 1957, at the Palestra...Mount St. Mary's 86, Villanova 70: This was coach Phelan's first game at the Palestra as a coach in his hometown of Philadelphia, Pa. The game was the last one of the regular season, was part of an amazing 21-game winning streak that was ended in the semifinals of the NCAA College Division Championships by Kentucky Wesleyan, 99-81.
"It was the first game in the Palestra for me as a coach. Jack Sullivan had 33 points and we won 86-70. It was memorable because we had the phone number of the scorers table and my wife, Dottie, was calling to get updates because the game wasn't on televison or radio. On her last call, Bob Vetrone told her to hang up and not worry, because the Mount was up 15 with a minute to play."
Dec. 1, 1961, at Providence...Providence 65, Mount St. Mary's 59: The Providence game was the season-opener for the Mount in their championship season of 1962. Despite losing, the Mount learned that the team could compete with anyone in the country that night. The 1961-62 team closed out the season with 10 straight wins to earn the national championship.
"Providence had a couple of very good players, including John Thompson, and had won the NIT the year before. Dave Maloney had a great game and Eddie Pfeiffer took their All-American out of the game. We held a four or five point lead late in the game, and a few calls didn't go our way and we ended up losing. However, our team knew we could play with anyone after that."
Mar. 17, 1962, Evansville, Ind...National Championship Game...Mount St. Mary's 58, Sacramento State 57 (OT): The Mount was 14-6 midway through the season before turning things around and winning its final 10 games en route to the NCAA College Division National Championship. Included in that 10-game win streak were a three-overtime win versus American to close the regular season and a four-overtime win versus Albright in the East Regionals.
"We were in a mid-season slump. We had just lost at Randolph-Macon and on the way back the team had a meeting at the back of the bus. That loss had made us 14-6. When we got back, the team told me "Coach, we're not going to lose again." I said, great, 10 consecutive wins and we are national champions. Lo and behold, 10 wins later, there we were. Some of those wins were not easy. We had a four overtime game versus Albright. We beat Wittenburg in the quarterfinals. They had knocked us out the year before and were the defending national champions."
Dec. 6, 1995, Philadelphia, Pa...Mount St. Mary's 81, LaSalle 66: This was a big game for coach Phelan because it came on the same floor where he was a player at LaSalle...That season, the Mount went 21-8 and earned a bid to the National Invitation Tournament.
"We had opened the season with a loss at Wake Forest and played two nights later at Liberty, and they beat us bad. On the bus ride back, the coaches got together and decided to start Tony Hayden, a former walk-on, versus LaSalle. He hits his first shot, a three-pointer, and we took the lead and never looked back. It was a big win for me because it came on the same floor where I had played."
Dec. 18, 1995, Atlanta, Ga...Mount St. Mary's 71, Georgia Tech 69: In one of the most stunning upsets in college basketball that season, the Mount went to Georgia Tech and downed the eventual ACC regular season and tournament champion. The Mount went on to win the NEC regular season title with a 16-2 league mark.
"We played at their place and they were a good team. They went on to win the ACC regular season and tournament championships that season. I was out watching warm-ups and they were horsing around, and no one seemed real serious about the game. I went to the locker room and told our players, "these guys aren't taking us seriously. Go out, play hard, and you don't know what might happen." We led that game almost start to finish. Silas Cheung was making shots and Chris McGuthrie was having one of those incredible nights. Georgia Tech had rallied to take a lead, but we came back. With the score tied, we got an inbounds play underneath the basket. They were climbing all over McGuthrie, and Jeff Balistrere made a cut to the basket and came open for the layup. The shot went in, the buzzer sounded, and we snuck out with a great win."
Mar. 1, 1999, Staten Island, N.Y., NEC Championship Game...Mount St. Mary's 72, Central Connecticut 56: This was coach Phelan's 800th career win. He became just the fourth NCAA coach ever to reach the 800-win plateau. In addition, the win propelled the Mount into the NCAA Tournament for the second time.
"We had lost our three games, all at home, and finished in sixth place in the conference. We played Robert Morris in the first game and beat them handily, and pulled out a two-point win versus a good St. Francis NY team. The final game was against CCSU, a team that had just beaten us at home. It was a nip-and-tuck game, but we broke it open in the last five minutes and came away with the win."
Mar. 12, 1999, Bradley Center, Milwaukee,
Wis....Michigan State 76, Mount St. Mary's 53: The Mount
played Michigan State tough in this game, leading 14-13 with 13
minutes left in the first half. The Spartans, however, closed the
first half with an 11-3 run to take control.
"We were quite competitive in that game. We had a great game plan for Mateen Cleaves and forced him into some errors that he normally wouldn't make. It was a close game, but we missed two lay-ups late in the half and their center made two three-pointers to make it a 14-point game at the half."
Mar. 16, 1995, The Pyramid, Memphis, Tenn....Kentucky 113, Mount St. Mary's 67: This was the first-ever appearance by the Mount in the NCAA Division I Tournament. The Mount drew a Kentucky team who's roster included Walter McCarty, Tony Delk, Antoine Walker and Scott Padgett.
"One thing I remember was having a 5-2 lead early in the game. A number of people sent me photographs of the scoreboard with us leading. After that, they overwhelmed us. There were eight NBA players on that Kentucky team."