Champions! Johns Hopkins Tops Swarthmore, 61-57, in Centennial Title Game
By Jill Guise
Assistant Director of Athletic Communications
• Score: #16 Johns Hopkins-61, Swarthmore-57
• Records: JHU (23-4) • SC (22-5)
• Location: Swarthmore, PA • Tarble Pavilion
• The Short Story: The Johns Hopkins men’s basketball team rallied from a nine-point halftime deficit to knock off host and top-seeded Swarthmore, 61-57, for the 2018 Centennial Conference men’s basketball championship Saturday night at SC’s Tarble Pavillion. This Centennial title is the fourth for Johns Hopkins, which has won three of its four championships on the road.
How it Happened
• The Blue Jays were down 39-32 early in the second half when sophomore Harry O’Neil ignited a lightning-quick 9-0 run that turned the seven-point deficit into a 41-39 lead. A Conner Delaney steal and layup, a three-pointer from senior Jesse Flannery and a spinner from junior Daniel Vila fueled the run.
• A tough shot inside from Robbie Walsh halted the run, but a Flannery runner and a turnaround baseline jumper from senior Kyle Doran made it 45-41.
• Swarthmore was within 48-47 after a Cam Wiley drive, but Delaney’s 15-foot jumper and a drive to the basket by the freshman a minute later pushed the margin out to 52-47.
• The Garnet had the deficit at 55-53 and 57-55 down the stretch, but tournament MVP Michael Gardner hit six straight free throws in the final 21.5 seconds to seal the victory for Johns Hopkins. • The Garnet built a 34-25 halftime lead as they closed the opening 20 minutes on an 18-6 run to turn a 19-16 deficit into the nine-point halftime lead.
• A Wiley three-pointer jump-started the run for the Garnet, which also got three-pointers from Conor Harkins and Ryan Ingram and seven points from Wiley during the spree.
• Hopkins had trailed 7-2 early, but a quick 10-1 run gave the Blue Jays a 12-8 lead. Gardner scored all six of his first-half points during the spree, which was capped by a Doran layup with 13:49 left in the first half.
• Swarthmore had the game tied as 12-12 and 14-14, but a conventional three-point play by O’Neil gave the Blue Jays a 17-14 lead and the margin was 19-16 before a Wiley three-pointer for Swarthmore ignited the 18-6 half-ending run for the Garnet.
What it Means
• Hopkins runs its win streak to 13 and earns the Centennial Conference’s automatic bid to the upcoming NCAA Tournament. The bracket for the tournament will be announced on Monday, February 26.
• This was the second all-time meeting between Johns Hopkins and Swarthmore in the Centennial Tournament. The previous meeting had taken place in the 1997 semifinals.
• Head coach Josh Loeffler is the first coach in Centennial Conference history to win the league title in his first year.
Inside the Box Score
• Garden led four Blue Jays in double figures with 15 points and he also handed out three assists in 35 minutes. Delaney added 13 points, with 11 of those coming in the second half. O’Neil and Doran each had 11 points and Doran also grabbed a team-best seven rebounds.
• Wiley led all scorers with 20 points and was the only Garnet player in double figures.
• Swarthmore dominated the boards in the first half, 16-10, but Hopkins had the edge in the second 13-12. Hopkins also shot 52.0 percent from the field in the second while holding Swarthmore to 45.0 percent.
• The Garnet’s 57 points are their fewest since a 70-52 loss to the Blue Jays on January 12, 2017 in Baltimore. Hopkins has now held its opponent to 60 points or fewer 17 times this season.
• Hopkins will learn its NCAA Tournament fate on Monday when the bracket is announced at 12:30 pm. Fans can watch the selection show on NCAA.com.