The men’s basketball team competed in the 18th annual Wall-O’Mahony Game this weekend against the Ursinus College Bears. The game has been held every year to honor the lives of Glen Wall and Matt O’Mahony, who played basketball at Hopkins together in the 1980s and died tragically in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
The Blue Jays started the game on a hot shooting streak, going up 26-16 after 10 minutes. The team’s three-pointers were hitting their marks nonstop early in the first half. Good shots by junior forward Harry O’Neil and senior guard Noah Ralby kept the good run going to finish the first half strong.
The lead fell a few times periodically, but thanks to a buzzer-beating layup by Ralby, the Blue Jays ended the half with a 48-35 lead. Ursinus put up a good fight, but the first half was mostly marked by the Jays’ dominance on the offensive end of the court.
O’Neil reflected on the Blue Jays’ strong start to the game, both on the offensive and defensive ends.
“We started the game off really aggressive offensively and were able to get into a nice groove. We also did a good job keeping them from playing in transition and limiting their three-point attempts, which allowed us to get them out of their rhythm and extend our lead,” O’Neil said.
However, Ursinus made the right adjustments at halftime, cutting the lead down to six points to start the second half. About 10 minutes into the half, though, the Blue Jays were back to their 12-point lead. After freshman guard Braeden Johnson’s fifth three-pointer of the game, the Blue Jays found themselves up 77-63.
Despite this hefty lead, the Bears still managed to make it a close game, bringing the lead down to just two points in the last three minutes of gameplay. The Blue Jays would not give in and went on a final scoring run to win the game 90-81.
With this win, Hopkins has swept the season series against Ursinus. In their last meeting on Jan. 10, Hopkins won 66-57. The Blue Jays improve to 12-4 in Conference play and sit in second place, only a single game behind the Swarthmore College Garnet.
O’Neil found himself in the spotlight this game, finishing with a career-high of 19 points while getting eight rebounds and shooting 70 percent from the field. For his performance, he was given the Wall-O’Mahony Game MVP award. This is the second year in a row he has won the award, and only two other Hopkins players have ever won it multiple times.
O’Neil commented on what winning this special award meant to him.
“It means a lot to me. The game is obviously really important to the team and all the alums, so I take a lot of pride in coming out and playing as well as I can to honor the memory of Glen Wall and Matt O’Mahony,” he said.
Joining him in this night of career-highs was Johnson, who finished with a personal best of 21 points, and Ralby, who secured his first double-double with 12 points and 11 assists. Johnson’s five three-pointers tied his career-high, and Ralby’s 11 assists were tied for the second most in school history.
One player from each team receives a Wall-O’Mahony MVP award in this memorial game, and for the Bears, junior Ryan McTamney was chosen thanks to his 21-point performance. Ursinus is now 11-5 in Conference play and fell to third place after this game.
Now that Conference play is wrapping up, the Blue Jays are looking toward the playoffs. Hopkins was the 2018 Centennial Conference Tournament champions, and they are certainly hoping to replicate last year’s success.
O’Neil outlined some of the team’s goals as they look to finish the season strong and prepare for playoffs.
“For us, we really just try to lock in and focus on defending and rebounding. We feel that if we can do both of those things well, we’ll give ourselves a chance to win any game,” he said.
The Blue Jays finish the regular season on Saturday, Feb. 16 at 7:00 p.m. in the Goldfarb Gymnasium against Haverford. Haverford is 6-10 in Conference play, so the Blue Jays will be hoping to finish the season on a high note.