John Carroll head coach Tony Martin channeled his inner-Bart Scott on Friday night.
“Can’t wait!” he said, moments after his Patriots (27–2, 11–1 MIAA “A”, 11–1 BCL) dropped their first home and conference games, 65–61, to Mount St. Joseph on senior night in the regular season finale.
John Carroll is ready for the playoffs. And the playoffs could mean a rematch with the Gaels in next week's MIAA "A" conference tournament championship. First, though, the Patriots must get past McDonogh.
“I think that there’s not a lot of times that it’s good to lose games, but I think this is a good time,” Martin said. “It relieves some of the subliminal pressure, and more importantly, it had absolutely zero impact on our goals.”
Mount St. Joseph, however, needed a win to keep its postseason hopes alive, and it played like it. The visitors made eight 3-pointers—five in the first nine minutes—and trailed for only 56 seconds in the win.
“We’ve given away a couple of games basically because of youth and inexperience,” head coach Pat Clatchey said. “What we’ve accomplished beating St. Frances [Sunday] and John Carroll on the road I think shows a lot about our team.”
The Gaels used a 13–4 run that bridged the first two quarters to take a 24–14 lead, which eventually stretched to 32–17. It was then that Malcolm McMillan and the Patriots full court pressure took over.
“We knew John Carroll was going to make a run. ... We kind of weathered the storm. We bent but didn’t break,” Clatchey said. “I think our guys are very tentative. It’s too late in the season to be doing that.”
McMillan had a game-high 30 points, 28 of which came in the final three quarters.
“He’s kind of put the team on his back,” Martin said. “His will and desire is impressive.”
Kameron Williams, however, was too much early on. The Gaels’ leading scorer had 13 points in the first quarter and 28 overall, including three 3-pointers.
“They shot the ball extremely well early,” Martin said. “We became a little passive.”
McMillan’s explosion began in the second quarter when he dropped 18 points, including a four-point play, in a span of six minutes, 21 seconds.
The home team’s only leads came following a pair of McMillan layups—one with a second left in the third quarter to make it 47–45, and the other early in the fourth to make it 49–47.
McMillan, who converted three of his four and-one opportunities, had willed his team ahead only for the Gaels to pull away late.
“He’s a tough matchup … he’s very disruptive with his hands and his quickness,” Clatchey said. “I’m glad he’s graduating.”
Jarred Jones was the only other Patriot in double figures with 12 points, eight of which came in the first 5:16 of the game.
The other Patriot senior, Ronald Scott, finished with eight points, as did freshman Kamau Stokes.
The Gaels also got a big night from Phil Booth, who made three 3-pointers en route to a 19-point performance. David Windsor added 10 for Mount St. Joseph. He, Booth and Williams combined for 19 of the visitors’ 20 points in the fourth quarter, 10 of which came on free throws.
No. 1 seed John Carroll will host No. 4 seed McDonogh in the MIAA "A" Conference semifinals at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
CORRECTION: Due to incorrect information received from a tournament official, an earlier edition of this article stated that John Carroll would host Mount St. Joseph in Wednesday's semifinals.