Mount Saint Joseph junior James Bishop scored 30 of his game-high 37 points in the first half to lead the No. 3 host Gaels (19-3) to an 80-61 victory over visiting No. 14 Saint Vincent Pallotti (16-7).
Bishop made six three-pointers from beyond the arc and had two conventional threes in the opening half.
“I think I just got in a rhythm early in the game and I was able to hit open shots and then even when they contested it, I was already in the rhythm, so I was able to stick the shots,” said Bishop, who said he’s never scored 30 in a half in any game.
Bishop hit his last three-pointer at the halftime buzzer to give the Gaels a 50-29 lead.
“I was already feeling it, so I figured I might as well finish the half off with a bang,” said Bishop, who left the game with 1:19 remaining in the third quarter and never returned.
“We tried different things, we tried to box them, we tried to zone them a little bit and obviously tried to play man, and I thought a lot of the shots were contested, but when you are in a rhythm like he was, it’s very difficult to stop,” Murphy said. “Once he got hot they started to go to him and it kind of snowballed.”
Pallotti did show a glimmer of hope late in the first quarter when Cannady hit a deep three-pointer at the buzzer and he answered Bishop’s basket with another trey with 6:15 left in the second quarter that cut the lead to 22-16.
But the Gaels responded with a 14-3 run, sparked by 11 points from Bishop and a three-point play by Smith,
The 6-foot-10 Smith will play at the University of Maryland next year.
“Him [Smith] and James [Bishop] are our anchors and the other guys, we just need them to play defense and play their roles and chip in offensively when any opportunity presents itself,” said Clatchey, who didn’t take the Panthers lightly. “We knew they had some good players and they’ve had some good wins.”
While the win over the Panthers was the Gaels’ 11th in a row, the Panthers did have a 13-game winning streak earlier this season.
“It’s a long season and we’ve had some good wins and obviously this is not a very good loss, and as I told the kids in the locker room, if you played one minute or you played 32 minutes, there were some good things that you did and some bad things, so you want to concentrate on the good and you want to take away the bad and try to get better,” Murphy said.
The coach will take away the positives, but he knows they have a ways to go to get to the top of the conference.
“We had some open looks, we didn’t make them, had some layups around the basket and give them credit, they are a good team and Pat’s been with them for a long time and they have two very, very good players,” Murphy said.