Hopkins' win clinches section crown Blue Jays overcome Shoremen, 85-76

February 23, 1992|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Staff Writer

Hot-shooting Johns Hopkins didn't back into postseason play, and as a result, the Blue Jays' hopes for a third straight berth in the NCAA Division III tournament are quite strong.

Hopkins, already assured of a home game in the Middle Atantic Conference Southern Division semifinals next Thursday, played one of its best games of the second half of the season, putting away Washington, 85-76, before an overflow Alumni Night crowd of 1,311 at the White Center last night.

Hopkins clinched the MAC Southeast Section crown, finishing the regular season 19-6 overall and 7-2 in the section. If the Blue Jays can win their MAC Southern Division semifinal against Muhlenberg, coach Bill Nelson figures they deserve an at-large NCAA bid. Hopkins can claim an automatic bid by winning the Southern Division championship.

Southwest Section champion Franklin & Marshall plays host to Widener, the Southeast runner-up, in the other semifinal.

"It's nice to go out there and win a game we didn't necessarily have to win," Nelson said. "Playing Washington is going to get us up anyway because it's such a great rivalry. We started coming back the other night, when we shot 56 percent against Haverford, and tonight was another building block."

The Blue Jays had lost four of five before that victory at Haverford, but now they go into the playoffs with additional momentum. Hopkins' second-half shooting was the difference against Washington. The Blue Jays made 16 of their 23 attempts (69.6 percent), including six of eight from 3-point range, after halftime.

In the second half, sophomore Luke Busby got 16 of his game-high 23 points, and classmate Mike Rotay scored 13 of his 18. Senior forward Jay Gangemi, who set a Hopkins record by playing in his 109th game, carried the load in the first half, when he scored 11 of his 15. Gangemi also had four assists and 13 rebounds, as the Blue Jays had a commanding 35-13 bulge on the boards. Sophomore center Frank Grzywacz had 15 points and seven rebounds.

Washington, which could have forced a three-way tie for Southeast Section honors with a victory, finished 14-11 overall and 6-4 in the section. Junior guard Allen Lester scored 11 of his 22 points into a four-minute span of the second half, and junior center Darren Vican had 20 points on 10-of-12 shooting.

Vican tied it at 41 with 16:25 remaining, but Hopkins reacted with a 15-2 run in which it made six of its seven shots. Busby made two three-pointers in the midst of a roll that put the Blue Jays up 56-43, and the lead never got smaller than seven points.

Hopkins threatened to blow open the game early. Gangemi made two three-pointers and scored 10 straight for a 21-8 lead with 8:34 gone. The Shoremen, however, awakened with a 13-2 run that was aided by a technical on Nelson, his first in four years. With 9:52 left in the the half, Washington had six men on the floor, and when the officials blamed themselves and not the Shoremen, the normally mild-mannered Nelson was hit with the technical and his team lost possession.

WASHINGTON -- Lester 7-14 7-11 22, Basel 4-8 1-2 10, Rupert 5-9 3-4 13, Swanson, 0-1 0-0 0, Cummings 3-6 1-2 8, Poe 1-1 0-0 2, Vican 10-12 0-0 20, Dutton 0-3 1-2 1, Liddy 0 -5 0-0 0. Totals 30-59 13-21 76.

JOHNS HOPKINS -- Knee 2-3 2-2 7, Allegretti 0-0 0-00, Rotay 6-8 2-2 18, Gangemi 4-8 5-6 15, West 0-0 1-2 1, Busby 8-14 4-4 23, Markey 0-0 0-0 0, Jennings 0-0 0-0 0, Grzywacz 7-9 1-2 15, Shatzel 0-2 0-0 0, Sabad 3-5 0-0 6, Thompson 0-0 0-0 0, Russell 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-49, 15-18 85.

Halftime--Washington 36, Hopkins 35. Three-point goals--W 3-8 (Basel 1-2, Cummings 1-2, Lester 1-3, Rupert 0-1); JH 10-15 (Gangemi 2-2, Rotay 4-5, Busby 3 -6, Knee 1-2). Rebounds--W 13 (Rupert, Dutton 3); JH 35 (Gangemi 12). Assists--W 5 (Lester and Rupert 2); JH 16 (Gangemi 4). Total fouls--W 18; JH 15. Fouled out--Rupert. Att--1,311.

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