With the playoffs quickly approaching, Mount St. Joseph picked a good time to hit its stride.
The No. 2 Gaels hit five 3-pointers in the first quarter and led for all but 22 seconds in their 76-65 win at No. 7 John Carroll on Wednesday night.
Senior guard Kameron Williams led the Gaels (25-5) with 35 points, and senior guard Rodney Elliott scored 27 to lead host John Carroll (23-10).
"We pride ourselves on our shooting," Mount St. Joseph coach Pat Clatchey said. "Some nights it's better than others, and I tell them not to fall in love with the jump shot, cause it's fool's gold. We had really good balance on offense, and we hurt them with that."
With the game tied at 9 with 2:35 left in the first quarter, Mount St. Joseph scored four consecutive 3-pointers — from Phil Booth, Williams, Jordan McNeil, and Booth again — to take a 21-13 lead.
Elliott helped John Carroll to cut into the deficit, and his 3-pointer with 4:07 left in the first half closed the margin to 29-25. The Gaels led, 33-26, at halftime.
John Carroll made another run midway through the third quarter, but they couldn't overtake the Gaels. Kimbal MacKenzie's jumper brought the Patriots within four points at 38-34 with 5:06 left in the period, but Mount St. Joseph increased its lead to 50-42 heading into the fourth quarter.
Williams dominated the Patriots in the fourth quarter, scoring 17 of the Gaels' 24 points in the period to seal the 11-point win.
The Gaels converted 28 of 32 free throws in the game. Williams made 13 of his 14 attempts from the line.
"We got off to a good start, and it kind of set the tone for the night," Williams said. "We just stepped it up at the right time, and got some key stops when we needed to. "
Clatchey said he is impressed with his team's recent effort on the road.
"We've won five of our last six games we've played when we were on the road, and I think that's important. We are playing for a bye in the MIAA tournament, and for a higher seed in the Catholic League tournament. We bent a few times, but we never broke."
Mount St. Joseph 76, John Carroll 65
MSJ – Adams 7, McNeil 5, Jones 2, Booth 13, Barnes 3, Williams 35, Doran 11. Totals 22 28-32 76.
JC – Elliott 27, MacKenzie 17, Martin 3, Keyser 7, Tyne 2, L. Owona 2, Tertsea 4, M. Owona 3. Totals: 23 13-`16 65. Half: MSJ, 33-26.