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Jan. 3, 2013
BALTIMORE, MD - Johns Hopkins hit four free throws in the final six seconds to secure the 22nd annual Blue Jay Invitational title Thursday night in a 59-54 win over Marymount. The Blue Jays (7-5) win the title for the 13th time and first since 2007. The Saints fall to 5-8 on the season in the first ever meeting between the two programs.
In a game that saw 12 ties and nine lead changes, this one came down to the end. Though Hopkins led for all but 43 seconds of the second half, the Blue Jays could take more than a seven-point lead in the final stanza. Coming out of the half the same way the game started, all tied up, Brenden Cuyler put the Saints on top with a jumper in the paint. But on the Blue Jays ensuing possession, sophomore Jimmy Hammer was fouled on a three-point shot. He went to the line and hit all three shots to give Hopkins a 37-36 lead. Hopkins would not trail again.
Junior Connor McIntyre and senior Adam Spengler sandwiched layups around a Rick Narcisse bucket and the lead was three. Hopkins then got back-to-back buckets from junior Aleksandar Nikolic and senior Mike Rhoads to stake Hopkins to a six-point advantage. The teams traded buckets on the next two possessions before an Alex Pandrangi free throw gave the Blue Jays their largest lead of the game at seven points with 9:51 to play. Marymount responded with 9-2 burst that tied the game at 50 points apiece with just 5:02 to play.
Junior Daniel Corbett scored on consecutive possessions for the Blue Jays, including a basket from downtown, and Hopkins led 55-52 with 3:35 on the clock. But Jesse Konadu cut the deficit back to one with a big pull-up jumper just nine seconds later. Both teams went cold from there as neither team convert for more than three minutes.
It was a close one from the opening tip with the Saints pushing out to an early six-point lead. Hopkins rallied with six straight points to tie the game and it was back-and-forth from there. Neither team could take more than a four-point lead during the first half that saw 10 ties and eight lead changes. With 1:29 to play in the opening half, Rhoads answered a Cuyler three-pointer with one of his own and Hopkins led 32-29. But a Scott layup and a Konadu triple swung the lead back to the Saints at 34-32. Nikolic closed out the half as he took a pass from Rhoads in the paint, turned and laid it in at the buzzer to send the teams into the half tied at 34 apiece.
Nikolic earned tournament MVP honors with 30 points on 12-of-20 shooting with 11 rebounds, five assists and two blocks in two games. He finished with a game-high 16 points in the championship game while also grabbing six boards. Also named to the all-tournament team was McIntyre who totaled eight blocks, 16 points (7-12 FG), 10 rebounds and three helpers in two games. Cuyler punched up 16 points for the Saints to earn all-tournament team honors. He was joined by Konadu, who finished with 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting and three assists in the championship game.
In the consolation game, Susquehanna defeated Eastern 68-66. Harley Sellinger of Susquehanna and Ben Connors of Eastern were also named to the all-tournament team.
Hopkins returns to action on Saturday, January 5 as the Ursinus Bears visit Goldfarb Gym. The Centennial Conference tilt is set to tip off at 2:00 pm.