There was nothing fancy about this Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons victory. No gimmicks. No fluff. Just a lot of smarts, sweat and movement, and for Schenectady, not a lot of points.
“One word: defense,” said Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons coach Garry Horne of the key to his team’s 59-50 Big 10 win over rival Schenectady Tuesday night. “We pride ourselves on defense, and we played the way we’re capable of.”
The homestanding Golden Knights never let the Patriots string together points, and went on two significant runs of their own in ending a two-game slide while halting Schenectady’s winning streak at five.
Schenectady (4-4 league, 7-5 overall) had won each of its previous five contests by at least 13 points, and three of those victories had come in Big 10 play to push the Patriots into the upper tier.
“We work on our defense in practice all the time. In games, that’s all we talk about because we know we can score,” said Bishop Gibbons junior guard Brian Hamor, who had 14 points, nine rebounds and five assists. “We went old-school defense on them, man-to-man defense, and we boxed out.”
Bishop Gibbons (5-2, 7-4) used a 9-0 run to close out the first quarter and break away from a 6-6 tie. In the third period, the Golden Knights took charge with 14 unanswered points, opening up a 35-19 advantage.
“We had lost two in a row. They had won five in a row. We had to come out strong,” said ND-BG
senior forward Zach O’Brien. “We played well as a team. This was a huge team game, especially in the fourth quarter, when we kept our lead.”
O’Brien led the Knights with 24 points, 14 in the second half, while also shining at the defensive end with five steals. Senior guard Avery
Mitchell added 12 points, and turned in a exceptional ball-handling job against the quick, aggressive Patriots.
“We executed our game plan,” Horne said after his Knights beat the Patriots for the second straight time after losing 22 straight games against their city rival. “We slowed it down. We ran at times, and at the other end, we kept everything in front of us. Schenectady has so many athletes, but we didn’t let them get by us.”
That solid defense was a contributing factor as Schenectady turned the ball over 26 times and struggled to find the range from the field. The Patriots’ difficult shooting night included a 7-for-34 effort in the first half.
“We didn’t shoot well, obviously, and we had some rough stretches where we turned the ball over,” said Schenectady coach Mark Sausville, whose Pats were coming off a season-best 91-point outburst against Albany. “We’re going to turn the ball over some because of the way we like to push the ball, but we had too many as a result of bad decision-making and not understanding things. We have to cut down on decision-making turnovers.”
At one segment early in the third quarter, Schenectady had 17 turnovers and just 19 points after a tip-in by Chris Lewis.
“We pressured them for most of the game, and I think we rattled their ballhandlers. We felt we could do that,” said O’Brien, who, along with Hamor, performed well despite suffering from a severe cold. “We definitely got some easy baskets off that.”
O’Brien turned a steal into a layup for the easiest basket during
ND-BG’s 14-0, third-quarter surge, which followed Lewis’ tip-in. O’Brien and Joe Gallagher both knocked down three-point baskets, and Hamor sank a short jumper
after setting up Mitchell for one of his two two layups during the game-breaking spree.
Schenectady used a 8-0 run to end the third quarter and claw within
35-27, and got as close as seven in the fourth at 52-45 after back-to-back three-point baskets by Anthony Wilson and Derrick Millinghaus.
Blanchard 2-1-6, Davis 2-0-4, Jackson 1-2-5, A. Lewis 1-0-2, C. Lewis 7-0-14, Millinghaus 5-1-12, Taylor 1-0-2, Wilson 2-0-5. Totals: 21-4-50.
Buskey 1-0-2, Gallagher 2-0-5, Hamor 6-2-14, Mitchell 5-1-12, O’Brien 10-2-24, Sarchioto 1-0-2. Totals: 25-5-59.
Schenectady 6 9 12 23 — 50
Bishop Gibbons 15 6 14 24 — 59
Three-point goals: Blanchard, Jackson, Millinghaus, Wilson, Gallagher, Mitchell, O’Brien 2.