Heading into the game having won the past nine games, the Hopkins basketball team sought to defend home court and extend its streak against the Washington College Shoremen this past Saturday.
Perhaps rolling off the momentum of their streak, the Blue Jays exploded out to an early lead.
Within the first two minutes of the game, the Jays went up 7-1 thanks to star junior guard Conner Delaney’s five straight points.
The Shoremen fought back to prevent the lead from growing.
A three from Shoremen center Patrick Devitt kept the score at 22-16 with Hopkins leading at seven minutes until halftime.
Blue Jays senior forward Harry O’Neil responded the very next play with a three of his own, sparking a 13-2 Hopkins run.
During the run, sophomore forward Tom Quarry drove baseline and elevated for a thunderous slam, forcing the Shoremen’s coach to call a timeout and energize the crowd.
In the final four minutes of the half, a pair of free throws from Shoremen guard Derrick Carter and a layup from forward Daniel Brown put a halt to the Hopkins run.
The Blue Jays responded with their own two free throws from O’Neil and a buzzer-beating three from Delaney to give Hopkins a 40-22 lead at halftime.
Sophomore point guard Alex Schachne credited the team’s fiery start to their lockdown defense.
“For us it usually starts on defense bringing energy and being locked in. We have so many guys that can score or create offensively so that’s usually not a problem,” Schachne said.
“When we’ve been really elite is when we play up to our standards on defense and that’s how we came out to start.”
Picking up where he left off, Delaney put the Blue Jays on the board with a fast break pull up jumper, which set off another Hopkins run.
A run of buckets from Delaney, forwards O’Neil and sophomore Chid Nnake, Schachne and freshman guard Carson James allowed the Jays to pull ahead by 28 points with less than 12 minutes to go in the half.
The Shoremen struggled to mount any serious comeback effort, coming no closer than a 23 point deficit and being down as much as 32 points for the second half.
Schachne explained how the team was able to keep its foot on the gas despite its lead through the second half.
“Even though we were up big at half we always go out like its 0-0 and focus on setting the tone in the first five minutes to put a team away,” Schachne said. “We know you can’t let up, we’ve been up big and lost before and we’ve been down big and come back. We try to compete and give it everything we have no matter the score.”
At the sound of the buzzer, the Blue Jays came out on top with a final score of 81-51.
Delaney stuffed the stat sheet, dropping 23 points on 10-11 shooting along with four rebounds and three assists.
This game marks Delaney’s 10th 20-point game this season and the 12th of his college career.
Quarry and Schachne helped bear some of the offensive load as well, adding 13 and 10 points respectively.
Sophomore guard Ethan Bartlett came just short of a double-double, grabbing 10 boards and pouring in eight points.
As a team, the Blue Jays shot 56 percent from the field while holding the Shoremen to just 28 percent.
The team also outrebounded their opponent as well by a total of 40-32, as well as tallying six steals and seven blocks.
This victory over the Shoremen improves their Conference record to 13-1 and their overall record to 19-2. It also puts head coach Josh Loeffler at third in all time wins in the program’s history.
Hopkins now holds an 82-62 overall record against the Shoremen, winning eight of the last nine outings.
The Jays will look to continue their strong Conference play as they travel to Collegeville, Pa. to face the Ursinus College Bears.