Feb. 15, 2012
BALTIMORE, MD - The Johns Hopkins men's basketball team gave 13th-ranked Franklin & Marshall a battle but the regular season conference champions held on for a 71-63 at Goldfarb Gym on Wednesday afternoon. The Blue Jays slip to 14-10 overall and 10-7 in the Centennial Conference but are still in the hunt for a first-round playoff bye with one game to go. The Diplomats win their third straight and improve to 22-2 and 14-2 in the conference.
Trailing by eight at the half, Johns Hopkins opened the second half with a 15-6 spurt to take a 48-47 lead with 11:47 to play in the game. After trading buckets in the opening three minutes of the half, the Blue Jays found themselves down by nine. Freshman George Bugarinovic got things going with a bucket in the paint, following by a three-point play from senior Tim McCarty. Sophomore Connor McIntyre then sandwiched a pair of jumpers around an Adam Spengler free throw and the Blue Jays had their first lead of the game.
It was short lived however, as Franklin & Marshall quickly retook the lead on a Georgio Milligan bucket in the paint. The Diplomats would push their advantage to as much as five over the next three minutes, but the Blue Jays would chip it back down to one with four consecutive free throws from McCarty and sophomore Aleksandar Nikolic as JHU cut the deficit to 54-53 with 7:11 to play. That would be as close as Hopkins could get in the closing minutes though as Franklin & Marshall, the eighth ranked team in the conference in free throw percentage, went 6-of-6 from the line in the final seven minutes to hold on.
Early on it looked as if Franklin & Marshall would win easily as the Dips quickly turned a four-point game to an 11-point difference in a two-and-a-half minute spin midway through the first half. Milligan punched up five straight points followed by back-to-back buckets from Ed Early and the Dips led 17-6 at the 12:04 mark. Hopkins could get no closer than seven over the next eight minutes as F&M answered each JHU basket.
Junior Alex Pandrangi slotted a pair of baskets around a McCarty free throw in a two-minute span and Hopkins cut the deficit to five with 2:17 on the clock. But Milligan and Early answered with consecutive buckets in just a 26-second span to push the lead back to nine. Freshman Jimmy Hammer drained a 24-footer as the shot clock expired and with 51 ticks showing but Hayk Gyokchyan answered with a jumper 20 seconds later and F&M led 41-33 at the break.
Nikolic led the Blue Jays with a season-high 13 points and a career-high-tying eight boards. McCarty chipped in 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds, while Bugarinovic pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds as Hopkins won the battle of the boards (42-32). McIntyre added three blocks as the sophomore now has 13 in his last four home games. Milligan led all scorers with 27 points, while Early punched up 24 and Matt Porter added 10.
Hopkins closes out the regular season on Saturday, February 18 as the Blue Jays make the trip to the Eastern Shore to take on the Washington College Shoremen. Tipoff for a game that will have huge implications for seeding in next week's conference tournament is set for 4:00 pm.