Nothing came easy to the No. 1 Mount Saint Joseph basketball team Wednesday, and the two main causes were obvious: St. Maria Goretti seniors Abdou Tsimbila and RJ Blakney.
They each took turns dominating play at both ends of the court — Tsimbila finishing with 20 points, 16 rebounds and seven blocks and Blakney adding 18 points and five assists — as Goretti enjoyed a 64-53 road win in Baltimore Catholic League play at Mount Saint Joseph.
Mount Saint Joseph fell to 13-3 overall and lost for the first time in the BCL, now sitting at 6-1. Goretti is 14-3 overall and also 6-1 in league play.
Throughout the game, it was apparent the visitors were the more aggressive team on defense and crisper on offense. Gorretti scored the game’s first five points and never let the host Gaels gain any momentum. Goretti dominated the boards, blocked nine MSJ shots and made big baskets to lead from start to finish.
“Just a rough night,” Mount Saint Joseph coach Pat Clatchey said. “I just think we got outplayed. They were more active, more assertive, more aggressive. They dominated the glass, very disruptive defensively.”
Goretti did the little things and the big things throughout the game to stay in control. Tsimbila set an early tone with a block, a basket inside and a 3-point play to help stake Goretti to a 17-8 lead after one quarter.
Despite being outplayed throughout the first half, Mount Saint Joseph got a steal and layup from Chandler Johnson with seven seconds left in the first half to cut the lead to 29-21 at the break. But Goretti stayed on course with Blakney and Tsimbila combining to score 13 points in the third quarter to take a 47-32 advantage that was never threatened.
Goretti’s final points of the third quarter summed up the game, as Przemek Golek got an offensive rebound and alertly found Blakney under the basket for a 3-point play.
Mount Saint Joseph All-Metro guard James Bishop was contained for most of the first three quarters, scoring 11 of his team-high 21 points in the fourth after the visitors were comfortably ahead.
Johnson finished with 11 points and Ausar Crawley had 10 for Mount Saint Joseph, while Golek and Rahsaan Edwards each had 10 for Goretti.
Asked about the postgame message for his team, Clatchey quickly responded: “That that won’t get it done.”
SMG — Blakney 18, Edwards 10, Golek 10, Searcy 2, Tsimbila 20, Myrie 1, Payne 3. Totals: 22 17-28 64
MSJ — Crawley 10, Bishop 21, Brown 6, Edokpayi 2, Chairs 3, Johnson 11. Totals: 19 9-14 53
Half: SMG, 29-21