The Mount Saint Joseph basketball team got the expected fine contributions Friday against No. 1 St. Frances, such as All-Metro senior guard James Bishop’s stellar 29-point performance.
And then there was some that wasn’t quite the norm, such as Wesley Chairs hitting a big 3-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer, then grabbing a big offensive rebound and taking two charging calls in the fourth.
The No. 2 Gaels forged ahead with a number of 3-pointers in the third quarter and then showed poise at the end to seal an impressive 74-63 road win over the host Panthers.
Tyler Brelsford scored 15 points, point guard Ausar Crawley added 14 and the Gaels made 14 straight free throws in the final 4 minutes, 31 seconds for the huge win.
Mount Saint Joseph improves to 10-1 overall, 6-0 in the Baltimore Catholic League and 5-0 in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference’s Red Division. St. Frances, which beat the Gaels for the BCL title last season, are 12-2 overall, 5-1 in the BCL and 4-1 in the MIAA A Red.
Bishop, a LSU commit who scored 11 fourth-quarter points to help close the win, was quick to mention the added motivation the Gaels brought to the St. Frances gym.
“They beat us three times last year and cost us the championship; so we just wanted to come in with a lot of grit and toughness and we came out and got the win. It’s a huge win to beat the No. 1 team in the conference,” he said.
Having lost four regulars to graduation from last year’s team, the Gaels are young and as coach Pat Clatchey said: “A continued work in progress.”
They looked like close to a finished product on Friday.
On defense, they kept the Panthers from transition points and penetrating to the basket and also rebounded well.
Leading 38-35 at the half, they relied on four 3-pointers – Chairs hitting the final one from the right corner to beat the buzzer for a 50-45 advantage going into the fourth quarter.
In methodically building a double-digit lead by the midway point, the Gaels got five straight points from Bishop – his 3-pointer for a 55-48 lead with 6:28 left came after an offensive rebound and kick out from Chairs – and then a 3-pointer from Crawley with the shot clock winding down.
Chairs took two key charges, the Gaels pounded the boards and Bishops and Crawley made 12 of the 14 free throws to bring home the win.
“We got a lot of heart and grit. This is a hostile environment and for our young guys to come in here and play the way they did was really big for us,” Bishop said.
Clatchey added: “Team win – a lot of guys contributed. To come in here – St. Frances is always a really, really talented team and to do that on the road.”
The Panthers got 26 points from point guard Adrian “Ace” Baldwin and 14 from forward Jamal West, but never found the fast tempo that produces wins.
“They had a good game plan, they executed and we didn’t play our best basketball tonight,” said St. Frances coach Nick Myles. “We got no transition points and I don’t think we rebounded the ball very well, so we just got to re-evaluate and get better.”
2 Mount Saint Joseph 74, 1 St. Frances 63
MSJ – Crawley 14, Bishop 29, Brelsford 15, Sykes 2, Brown 4, Hamlin 2, Edokpayi 3, Chairs 5. Totals: 22 20-25 74
SF – Jones 4, Baldwin 26, Murphy 7, West 14, Toles 6, Montague 1, Alexander 5. Totals: 22 17-24 63
Half: MSJ, 38-35