Nov. 30, 2008
STEVENSON, MD - After building a nine-point halftime lead against an experienced St. Mary's team that advanced to the Sweet 16 a year ago, the Johns Hopkins men's basketball team fell victim to one of the Seahawks' patented runs early in the second half of an 84-81 loss in the championship game of the 2008 Provident Bank Pride of Maryland Tournament Sunday night. St. Mary's wins its first Provident Pride Tournament title and improves to 5-0 on the year, while the Blue Jays slip to 3-2 this season. Hopkins was making its third appearance in the title game in the four-year history of the tournament.
Despite early foul trouble by its starting post players, the Blue Jays crafted a 52-43 lead at the half with clutch shooting from the field and perfect shooting from the free throw line.
St. Mary's, which posted a 19-12 record on its way to the Sweet 16 last season, came out strong in the second half as junior guard Comantae Griffin scored 13 of his 14 second-half points in the first six minutes to quickly erase the nine-point deficit. Griffin tied the game at 57 with a layup just 5:36 after intermission and gave the Seahawks the lead for good with his third three-pointer of the second half just 22 seconds later.
The Seahawks stretched the lead to as many as seven and Hopkins never made it a one-possession game until Pat O'Connell drained a three-pointer with seven-tenths of a second remaining to account for the final score. After Griffin's early second-half explosion, it was the inside tandem of Alex Irmer and Calvin Wise that did the damage for the Seahawks as they combined for 16 second-half points, including 10 straight over a five-minute span at one point. The Blue Jays were within four points seven times in the in the final eight minutes, but St. Mary's scored on all seven of its possessions each time JHU crept within four down the stretch.
In contrast to the second half, it was Johns Hopkins which got off to a quick start to open the game as the Blue Jays led 10-0 less than four minutes into the game and stretched the lead to 14-2 on a layup by junior Andrew Farber-Miller with 14:44 remaining in the first half. Farber-Miller scored all 10 of his first-half points during the 14-2 run to open the game, but he picked up his second foul 25 seconds after his layup gave the Blue Jays the 14-2 lead and didn't return until the second half.
Still, the Blue Jays kept pace with the run-and-gun style of the Seahawks behind the hot-shooting of O'Connell and perfection at the free throw line. O'Connell scored 14 of his career-high 26 points in the first half and the Blue Jays were a perfect 14-of-14 from the charity stripe before intermission. An O'Connell jumper with 9:32 remaining gave the Blue Jays their largest lead of the first half (24-11), but St. Mary's slowly began to slice into the lead and drew within five (46-41) on a Griffin layup 80 seconds before intermission.
Senior Collin Kamm drained a pair of free throws with 49 seconds remaining and freshman Tim McCarty was a perfect 4-of-4 from the line in the final 20 seconds to help account for the nine-point halftime lead, but Griffin and the Seahawks needed less than six minutes of the second half to take the lead for good and the Blue Jays fell for the second time this season to a team that played in the NCAA Tournament last season.
Griffin earned Tournament MVP honors as he scored a game-high 28 points in the championship game. Irmer (13 points), Alex Franz (13) and Mike Bowden (10) also scored in double-figures for St. Mary's, which shot 58.5% (31-of-53) from the floor and totaled 18 points off Blue Jay turnovers.
O'Connell, whose previous career-high for points was 22, hit 10-of-13 shots from the floor and 5-of-6 from the free throw line to account for his 26 points. His three-pointer in the final second kept alive the Blue Jays' streak of consecutive games with a three-pointer. JHU has now hit at least one three-point field goal in 322 straight games. O'Connell earned a spot on the All-Tournament Team for his efforts.
Farber-Miller totaled 19 points and four rebounds in just 22 minutes, while Kamm joined O'Connell on the All-Tournament Team as he totaled 11 points, four assists, four steals and two rebounds.
Johns Hopkins hit 29-of-54 (.537) shots from the floor, but just 10-of-24 (.417) in the second half. The Blue Jays held a 33-23 rebounding advantage and hit 22-of-26 from the free throw line.
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