February 1, 2012

St. Mary's Slips By Spartans in Tough CAC Contest

ST. MARY'S CITY, MD – St. Mary's College guard Chris Hutchinson hit a jumper with 1.4 seconds left to lift the Seahawks to a tightly contested 54-52 Capital Athletic Conference win on Wednesday night in a battle for second place in the conference in St. Mary's City, MD. The Seahawks improve to 15-6 overall and 9-3 in the CAC while the Spartans have their six-game win streak snapped as they fall to 13-8 overall and 8-4 in the league.

The game was nearly identical to the December 7 meeting, a game that St. Mary's won 71-69 in York.

This time the two defenses took center stage early as both offenses struggled mightily in the opening five minutes of the game.

The Spartans finally started to click on the offense end as they forged a 9-2 lead at the 14:06 mark of the first half. That is when York would go stone cold from the field. St. Mary's went on a 15-0 run as the Green and White went scoreless for 10:02. The Spartans would answer with a quick 5-0 spurt, cutting their deficit to 17-14 with 1:20 remaining in the half. A three-point play from J.D. Garris 14 seconds later pushed the St. Mary's lead back to six before the Spartans got a lay up from Mo Oursler and a free throw from Julian Watson to trim the Seahawk lead back to three with 12 seconds left in the half.

Then, just like the first game in York, the Seahawks got a beneficial call with 0.8 seconds left in the half as Kyle Wise got to go to the line and he converted both free throws to push the lead to 22-17 at the break. Those two points would prove to be huge in the closing seconds of the game.

The opening stages of the second half looked like the Seahawks were going to blow the Spartans out as they opened the stanza on an 8-2 run to push the lead to 11 at 30-19.

With the Seahawks leading 36-25, the Spartans went on a 10-0 run fueled by senior Paul Kouvaris as the forward had five points on the spurt. The Seahawks answered with five quick points followed by five points from the Spartans as the lead remained at one.

The last eight minutes of the game proved why the CAC is one of the most competitive conference's in the country. The Seahawks pushed their lead to seven at 52-45. York responded with Watson scoring seven straight points over the next three plus minutes, tying the game at 52 with 1:48 remaining.

The two teams then traded missed three pointers before the Hutchinson missed a jumper with 29 seconds left. York's Jeremy Skoloda got the defensive rebound but committed a turnover on the ensuing possession, giving the Seahawks the ball with 24 seconds left, setting the stage for Hutchinson's heroics.

The Spartans did have a chance with 0.4 seconds left as Oursler found himself alone by the Spartans' basket but the senior couldn't corral in the inbounds pass and get a shot off as the horn sounded.

Kouvaris was outstanding as he poured in a game-high 22 points while he also had eight rebounds in his 35 minutes of action. He was 9-for-14 from the floor and 4-for-6 from the charity stripe. Watson was the other Spartan in double figures as he had 15 points to go along with four rebounds, two assists, a blocked shot and a steal. Oursler chipped in seven points for York.

The Seahawks were very balanced as they did not have a player reach double figures but did have 10 players reach the scoring column. Jeff Haus led the Seahawks with nine points and four rebounds in 23 minutes of work off the bench. Christian MacAuley notched six points, a game-high 12 rebounds, four assists, four blocked shots and a steal in a season-high 39 minutes of play.

York finished the game shooting 38.8% from the field and 27.3% (3-of-11) from distance. The Spartans shot a cool 61.1% (11-of-18) from the charity stripe. St. Mary's shot 35.8% from the floor while they made 6-of-22 (27.3%) from distance. The Seahawks were a crisp 10-for-11 (90.9%) from the free throw line in the win.

The Spartans were 24-for-42 (57.1%) in their two losses to the Seahawks this year, 11% worse than their season percentage of 68.1%.

The Seahawks finished the game with a 39-31 margin on the glass. However, the Spartans out-boarded their hosts 17-12 in the second half. Despite the overall rebounding deficit, York had a 10-4 edge in second-chance points while they also had a 24-18 margin in points in the paint.

The Spartans are now off for a week until they return to action to face Stevenson University in an 8:00 pm CAC contest from Owings Mills, MD.