Mount St. Joseph guard Kameron Williams ignited the home crowd with consecutive behind-the-back dribbles before throwing a deft pass to Charlie Jones for an easy layup in the final seconds of the third quarter against John Carroll.
Williams was a catalyst at both ends of the court, scoring 17 points and leading the fourth-ranked Gaels to a 69-57 victory over the fifth-ranked Patriots in front of an overflow crowd that included Maryland men's basketball coach Mark Turgeon. The victory goes a long way even at the midpoint of the season as the Gaels have taken control of the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference and the Baltimore Catholic League.
"We had to pick up the intensity," Williams said. "We knew it was going to be a hard-fought game. It was just a matter of us pulling through it. I think our free throws were a big part of this outcome."
Pat Clatchey had been honored before the game for having recorded his 450th win as Mount St. Joseph's coach this season.
Jaylen Adams scored 15 points, Lavon Long had 14 and Phil Booth added 12 for the Gaels (15-2 overall, 7-1 MIAA, 6-1 BCL). Jarred Jones had 15 points, Justin Jenifer added 12 and Mihael Maric had 10 for John Carroll (16-3 overall, 5-1 MIAA, 5-1 BCL).
The Patriots led 29-26 at the half, thanks to their physical play in the paint. But the Gaels took control in the third quarter as Williams scored six points in a 15-3 run that gave them a 41-34 lead with 2:14 remaining. Mount St. Joseph continued to increase the lead, and back-to-back 3-pointers by Adams and Booth early in the fourth quarter made the score 51-41.
"We tell our guys the first four minutes of the third quarter can oftentimes decide the game," Clatchey said. "We got the lead, and we executed. I thought Lavon Long was excellent tonight. He was driving to the bucket and making his free throws."
John Carroll trailed by double digits the rest of the way. Long made five of six free throws in the closing minutes.
"I think we play better as a second-half team," Long said. "We had to pick it up, so we did."
The teams opened the game at a frantic pace, trading field goals throughout the first quarter. A free throw by Rodney Elliott with 1:28 remaining gave John Carroll a 16-15 lead heading into the second quarter.
Mount St. Joseph didn't trail by more than two points for most of the second quarter. A pair of free throws by Phillip Lawrence gave the Gaels a 26-25 lead with 2:13 left in the half. But John Carroll answered with a putback by Marcus James and dunk by Elliott to take the three-point lead at the break.
JC—James 4, Jones 15, Maric 10, Elliott 9, Stokes 7, Jenifer 12. Totals: 15 11-13 57
MSJ—Adams 15, Jones 2, Booth 12, Williams 17, Doran 7, Lawrence 2, Long 14. Totals: 18 24-26 69
Half: JC, 29-26