The No. 1 Mount Saint Joseph basketball team doesn't like to lose.
The fact was made clear against St. Vincent Pallotti on Friday night.
After falling for the first time this season Wednesday, the Gaels rebounded in a big way, getting a dominant performance from All-Metro senior Darryl Morsell to claim an 81-52 win over the visiting Panthers in Irvington.
Morsell finished with a game-high 27 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists and had plenty of help. Sophomore guard James Bishop (18 points), junior center Jalen Smith (14 points) and senior Nigel Jackson (12 points) all contributed to the dominant win.
Mount Saint Joseph, which fell at St. Maria Goretti, 63-62, on a last-second 3 pointer, improved to 16-1 and remained perfect in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference with a 7-0 mark. Pallotti, which came into the game a winner of five of its past six games, is 7-7 and 3-3 in league play.
After the tough loss, Morsell and the Gaels couldn't wait to get back on the floor — their first-half energy to take a 48-27 halftime lead providing proof.
"I don't think I played very well at Goretti, so I tried to come out here today and pick it up right away and lead my team," Morsell said.
In last year's MIAA A quarterfinals, the Panthers gave the favored Gaels a significant push before falling, 48-45, on a 3-pointer from Jackson with 1.5 seconds left.
On Friday, it wasn't close. Leading 23-17 after the first quarter, the Gaels overwhelmed the Panthers in the second quarter behind Morsell and some tough defense. Morsell had eight points and three assists as the Gaels stretched the lead to 48-27 at the break. The highlight came midway through the quarter when Morsell grabbed a defensive rebound and got up the floor in a hurry, threading a no-look pass to Smith for a dunk that made the score 35-20. Earlier in the quarter, Smith and Morsell had blocked shots on consecutive possessions.
"The second quarter, we just got stops," Morsell said. "We got a lot of stops and were able to run, use our athleticism and size and that was it."
Pallotti got 18 points from senior Everette Hammond with sophomore Abdoul Karim Coulibaly adding 11 and Justin Brewer finishing with 10. The Panthers were coming off an impressive 56-46 win over No. 10 Glenelg Country on Wednesday, but couldn't stay on a positive roll against the Gaels.
"They're just better than us right now," Pallotti coach Dennis Murphy said. "We tried to go zone and they made shots. I think they're the best team in the league and there's a gap right now where they're at and where we're at and we have to work harder."