With one Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons standout on the bench with five fouls, another delivered Friday night at the Pat Riley Sports Center.
Senior forward Zach O’Brien sank four free throws in the final 18 seconds as the Golden Knights held off a grand comeback bid by Schenectady and posted a 74-67 Big 10 victory.
The four foul shots gave O’Brien 26 points, and the win gave the Golden Knights (11-4, 13-6) a rare sweep of its city rival.
“I was stirring inside, but I tried to look calm,” said O’Brien, who netted 17 second-half points and also had eight rebounds and five assists. “They were talking a little bit. Trying to get on me. I’m just glad they went down.”
Schenectady (5-10, 8-11) trailed by as many as 16 points in the third quarter and was down by 15, 63-48, with five minutes left. That’s when the Patriots made a bid to make Senior Night a memorable one, twice slicing their deficit to three points behind a hustling cast of five.
“Sometimes, kids get rattled when they see a lead diminish. Sometimes, kids get unsure,” said coach Garry Horne, after his streaking Golden Knights won their third straight game and sixth in seven outings. “Late in the game, that was gut-check time. I said, ‘You’ve come too far to let it get away. Your will will determine this.’ ”
Bishop Gibbons had lost junior guard Brian Hamor to fouls with 1:42 left and his team on top, 67-60.
Before exiting, Hamor had fired in 19 points, including two fourth-quarter layups that helped ND-BG open up its 63-48 advantage.
“They just started hitting shots, and we had trouble getting the ball up court,” O’Brien said of the Patriots’ comeback.
Tajric Boggs nailed a three-pointer soon after Hamor’s departure, and after Chris Buskey made a foul shot for ND-BG, Derrick Millinghaus’ jumper got the Pats within 68-65 with 1:09 to go. After O’Brien scored on a drive, Anthony Lewis’ jumper made it 70-67 with 27 seconds remaining.
“I’m very happy with the way those guys competed. They gave it a good fight,” said Schenectady coach Mark Sausville, who had starter Mark Blair coupled with reserves Boggs, Millinghaus, Lewis and Kendall Delgado down the stretch. “That could have been a major blowout.”
“The guys in there were just plugging away, and we meshed well together,” said Delgado, a junior guard who had a layup, putback and a free throw during the late spurt. “We just wanted to win.”
So did O’Brien.
“When Hamor went out, coach said he was putting the ball in my hands,” said the senior, who burned Schenectady for 24 points in a 59-50 win last month. “I took it personally. I wanted to get the job done.”
O’Brien made two from the line with 18 seconds left, and after Boggs missed a three, O’Brien knocked down two more foul shots to create the final margin with nine seconds to play.
“Zach is the guy we wanted at the line,” said Horne. “He’s a big-time player, a complete player.”
Nick Sarchioto had 15 points and nine rebounds, and Joe Gallagher made a trio of threes and snared nine rebounds for Bishop Gibbons. Gallagher hit a three, Buskey and Hamor had layups, and O’Brien scored on two more in an 11-0 run to start the third quarter as ND-BG opened up a 41-26 lead.
O’Brien’s three-pointer made it 44-28, and Sarchioto’s layup made it 46-30, later in the quarter.
“That run was the result of defense more than anything else,” said Horne. “We came out in man instead of zone, and they didn’t expect that. It showed. Sometimes, you’ve got to switch things up.”
Though Schenectady eventually got back on track, that third-quarter push by the Knights proved costly.
“We’ve got to stop that habit of digging holes for ourselves,” said Sausville. “We did it against Albany [Tuesday] and couldn’t escape. We did it tonight and couldn’t escape. I like the way we closed the game, but I didn’t like that third quarter.”
Blair led the Pats with 15 points and five rebounds, Boggs had 12 points and three steals, and Millinghaus totaled 10 points and four assists. A sophomore guard, Boggs was playing only his third varsity game since being called up from the junior varsity, and turned in his second double-digit performance.
“We thought about taking him [Boggs] in the beginning of the year, but he was raw. We let [JV coach] Ian McShane coach him, he got better, and we brought him up,” Sausville said. “He’s been a nice addition.”
Bishop Gibbons recorded two victories over Schenectady for first time since the 1993-94 season. Bishop Gibbons also beat Schenectady twice in 1994-95, though the first victory was later forfeited due to an ineligible player.
Buskey 2-1-5, Gallagher 3-0-9, Hamor 9-1-19, O’Brien 9-6-26, Sarchioto 6-3-15. Totals: 29-11-74.
Blair 6-3-15, Blanchard 1-2-4, Davis 3-0-6, Delgado 4-1-9, A. Lewis 3-0-6, C. Lewis 2-0-5, Millinghaus 4-2-10, Boggs 5-1-12. Totals: 28-9-67.
Bishop Gibbons 18 12 23 21 — 74
Schenectady 10 16 12 29 — 67
Three-point goals: Gallagher 3, O’Brien 2, C. Lewis, Boggs.