Top-ranked Mount St. Joseph (9-0) rallied from an eight-point halftime deficit Friday to defeat host Cardinal Gibbons (3-4), 65-50, in an MIAA A Conference and Catholic League game as Gibbons dedicated its basketball court to longtime coach and player Bob Flynn, who died in 2007.
The Crusaders' Dylon Cormier, who will play at Loyola College next season, led all scorers with 24 points. Eric Atkins led the Gaels with 23 points.
"We turned up the intensity on the defensive end in the second half," said Atkins, who will play at Notre Dame next season. The pre-game ceremonies "were a big boost for them, and they played with a lot of emotion. We were a little out of sync, and they took advantage."
Getting five points from Atkins, the Gaels took a 10-4 lead. The Crusaders toughened their defense, and with five points from junior Eric Fisher tied the game at 12 after the first quarter.
After the Gaels took an 18-14 lead, the Crusaders again stepped up their defense. Gibbons held the Gaels scoreless for 3:22 and took a 23-18 lead with 2:19 left in the half. After the Gaels' Matt Miller hit a layup, the Crusaders scored six of the next nine points and led 29-21 at the half.
The Gaels looked like a different team in the second half. Mount St. Joseph tightened its defense and took a 35-34 lead on a jumper by Ryley Beaumont with 2:37 left in the third quarter. Gibbons reclaimed the lead on a layup by Cormier, but the Gaels went on a 35-14 run to win the game.
"This game was an opportunity for us to show what we were made of," Gaels coach Pat Clatchey said. "They had some size, and it gave us some serious problems early."