Big Second Half Leads Hopkins Past F&M in Centennial Semifinal
By Jill Guise
Assistant Director of Athletic Communications
• Score: #16 Johns Hopkins-50, Franklin & Marshall-49
• Records: JHU (22-4) • FMC (20-6)
• Location: Swarthmore, PA • Tarble Pavilion
• The Short Story: The 16th-ranked Johns Hopkins men’s basketball team used a strong second half to defeat Franklin & Marshall, 50-49, in the semifinals of the 2018 Centennial Conference Tournament.
How it Happened
• Trailing by two with 39 seconds to play after a JC McGrath layup, Hopkins pulled within one when senior Kyle Doran hit one of two free throws. Freshman Conner Delaney then picked the pocket of Matthew Tate at midcourt and scored a fast-break layup to stake the Blue Jays to a 50-49 lead with 33 ticks on the clock. That proved to be the winning bucket as Hopkins punched its ticket to the final.
• In a game very reminiscent of the last time these two teams met, Franklin & Marshall got out to a strong start. The Dips led 11-2 at the 12:38-mark after a three-pointer from Brandon Federici. Sophomore Harry O’Neil answered with a layup to spark a quick 6-0 run as the Blue Jays trimmed the deficit to three with 8:18 to play in the half.
• Lionel Owona ended the run with a bucket in the paint to kick-start a 13-3 run that saw F&M push out to a 24-11 lead with 3:15 left in the half. Six different players scored for the Diplomats during the run that spanned five minutes. Delaney and junior Daniel Vila sandwiched buckets around a Matt Redhead free throw and Franklin & Marshall took a 25-15 lead into the half.
• Freshman Joey Kern and Delaney drained back-to-back threes, followed by a Michael Gardner pull-up jumper and just like that the lead was two just two-and-a-half minutes into the second half. The teams traded buckets over the ensuing two minutes and F&M led 31-27 on a Owona jumper.
• Gardner and Doran responded with back-to-back threes and Hopkins led for the first time in the game. The lead didn’t last long however as a pair of Federici free throws tied the game at 33-all just 35 seconds later. That kick-started a 9-0 Dips’ run that saw them go up 40-33 with 11:51 to play.
• Hopkins answered with a jumper from Gardner and consecutive buckets from junior Noah Ralby to pull within one at the 10:16-mark. A Tate jumper and an Ignas Slyka free throw pushed the Dips back on top by four. Gardner came back with a 15-footer to spark an 8-2 run that gave the Blue Jays a 47-45 lead with just over five minutes to play. Slyka tied the game with a pair of free throws and then McGrath put the Diplomats on top with 58 ticks on the clock.
What it Means
• Hopkins runs its win streak to 12 and will play in the Centennial Conference title game for the 10th time in program history. This is the Blue Jays’ third title game appearance in the last five years.
• Hopkins and Swarthmore meet in the Centennial Conference Tournament for just the second time and first since 1997.
• Head coach Josh Loeffler is just the second coach in Centennial Conference history to win a playoff game in his first season.
Inside the Box Score
• Gardner led the Blue Jays with 13 points and Kern chipped in 10 as the only two players in double figures. Doran grabbed a game-high nine rebounds and Vila had a game-high four steals.
• Doran hit his 100th career three-pointer, the second player this season to reach the milestone and the 15th in program history.
• Tate led all scorers with 15 points and Federici added 13 for the Diplomats.
• This is the fourth time this season that Hopkins has held an opponent to below 50 points. The 49 points are the fewest since Franklin & Marshall since a 50-46 loss to Hopkins on February 4, 2015.
• Hopkins will face host and top-seeded Swarthmore in the Centennial Conference title game on Saturday, February 24. Tip-off at Tarble Pavilion is slated for 7:00 pm.