Last week, the Lebanon Valley basketball team came south and snatched a win away from Johns Hopkins in the semifinal round of the Middle Atlantic Conference playoffs.
Last night, with just a bit more on the line, the Dutchmen came back into the Newton H. White Athletic Center, made up a 10-point second-half deficit and beat the Blue Jays, 53-49, in the opening round of the NCAA Division III tournament.
Sophomore reserve Jason Say had 15 points for the game and 11 points in the decisive second-half drive that pushed Lebanon Valley, the fifth seed in the Middle Atlantic region, into a game tomorrow at Scranton.
With a two-point halftime lead, the Blue Jays bolted out of the dressing room on a 10-1 run to lead 31-20 with 16 minutes remaining and looked like a lock to advance to tomorrow's
But Hopkins couldn't put Lebanon Valley away, and the Dutchmen climbed back into the game on the back of Say, who hit a key jumper with 2:35 remaining to give the Dutchmen a one-point lead that they wouldn't relinquish.
"I don't want to say they're the better team, because they're not," said Hopkins forward Luke Busby, who had a game-high 17 points. "But they come down here and get two wins from us by four points and somehow they found a way to win."
The Blue Jays (19-7), who saw their 13-game win streak end last week at the hands of Lebanon Valley, had their chance with possession of the ball with 37.6 seconds left and trailing by three.
But Hopkins forward Frank Grzywacz, who was largely kept in check by the Dutchmen's sagging defense with only eight points, committed an offensive foul on an illegal screen. From there, the Dutchmen (18-10) made their foul shots and ended Hopkins' season.
"In crunch time, they turned it up a notch and we just didn't get it done," said Hopkins coach Bill Nelson.
The Hopkins inside game, already weakened by the injury absence of freshman reserve forward John Maher, was crippled by the foul trouble that plagued Lou Sabad, who fouled out with six minutes left, scoring only two points.
"Lou usually gets us 11 points a game and he was hardly in DTC there," said Nelson. "That left it all on Frank inside and he can only do so much."
In addition, Lebanon Valley controlled the boards, out-rebounding the Blue Jays 34-18.
The first half was a tribute to good defensive positioning and overplaying of the passing lanes, as both clubs did a fine job of keeping each other out of low post scoring position.
The Blue Jays got established on the perimeter early as Michael Rotay hit a three-pointer and Busby hit two bonus shots to give Hopkins a 12-6 lead with 14:22 left.
Lebanon Valley looked out of sync offensively and could string together consecutive baskets only twice in the half.
But the Dutchmen also played exemplary defense, holding Hopkins shooting to just 30 percent.
Their interior defense kept Grzywacz in check.
Hopkins went scoreless for virtually the last five minutes of the period, allowing Lebanon Valley to close a five-point deficit and tie the score at 19 as Mike Rhoades got a put-back.
But reserve forward Matt Jennings hit a baseline jumper just before the buzzer to give the Blue Jays a 21-19 lead at the half.