Hopkins men’s basketball lost an absolute heartbreaker on Friday, falling to Penn State Harrisburg in double overtime by a score of 104-96.
The extremely close loss in the first round eliminated the host Blue Jays, who were one of the highest ranked teams in the tournament. The teams played behind closed doors after there were confirmed cases of coronavirus in Maryland the day before, forcing Hopkins to effectively give up their home court advantage.
The game was tight throughout the entirety of regulation. Hopkins struggled after losing star junior point guard Conner Delaney to a foot injury in the first half. Delaney was named Centennial Conference Player of the Year, so his absence proved critical. The man Delaney was set to guard the whole game, sophomore Donyae Baylor-Carroll, finished with a game-high 45 points, including 18 after regulation. The Lions went on to play and lose to Yeshiva University in the second round.
“We felt pretty good going into the game, we were all focused on what we had to do despite all the things that were going on outside of the game,” sophomore guard Ethan Bartlett said. “Guys were excited to play a tournament game but besides that it wasn’t too much different from any other game in terms of our approach and the feeling in the locker room before tip-off.”
Down 27-25 in the first half, Hopkins got five fast points from sophomore forward Tom Quarry to take a 30-27 lead, but a significant 13-point run by the Lions gave them a 40-30 lead.
The Blue Jays managed to narrow the score to 40-33 at halftime thanks to a Delaney three-pointer with 28 seconds remaining. The 13-0 run included four points for Baylor-Carroll. In the first half alone, there were five ties and 12 lead changes.
With 15 minutes left in regulation, the Lions held a 51-45 lead, but Hopkins scored a quick five, with a Quarry layup cutting the lead to 52-50.
The Lions extended their lead though, and Baylor-Carroll hit a clutch three to give Penn State Harrisburg a 62-55 advantage.
Hopkins wouldn’t quit and responded with 15 unanswered points to take a 70-62 lead with less than four minutes remaining.
The scoring spree was fueled by three three-pointers and seven points from Bartlett.
Unfortunately, the lead lasted only two minutes, and another Baylor-Carroll three helped the Lions pull even with the Blue Jays. Hopkins took another three-point lead, but Baylor-Carroll was fouled with only 37 seconds left and hit all three foul shots to tie the game and take it to overtime.
“I felt confident going into both overtime periods,” Bartlett said. “We knew that it was going to come down to whether or not we could get a few stops and we just weren’t able to. Got to give credit where it’s due, Penn State Harrisburg had a great game and shot the lights out. But I wouldn’t say that we were too tired or anything like that, they just made more plays down the stretch.”
Another three from Penn State Harrisburg’s main man put Hopkins down 80-75 with less than two minutes remaining in the first period of overtime.
Freshman guard Carson James and Bartlett tied things up, setting the stage for an insane final sequence.
Baylor-Carroll drained a three-pointer with only five seconds to go, seemingly winning the game for the Lions.
James responded though, dribbling down the court and hitting the impossibly clutch shot, temporarily saving the Blue Jays’ season by drilling a three as time expired to tie it all up and force a second overtime.
Unfortunately, Hopkins couldn’t keep up any longer. Penn State Harrisburg ran away with the game in the second period of overtime, scoring 21 points in the period as opposed to only 13 from the Blue Jays.
The tragic loss left Hopkins at 24 wins on the season, one fewer than their all-time record.
Quarry led the Blue Jays in scoring with 31 points, with Bartlett adding a career high 24 points of his own, as well as 12 rebounds. James had 14 for Hopkins himself, including the dramatic game-tying three-pointer. The teams combined for 31 three-pointers in the game, and the Blue Jays’ 47 three-point attempts set a school record.
“Obviously we didn’t accomplish our main goal going into the season but we have nothing to be ashamed of,” said Bartlett. “Guys made huge strides in terms of development and were locked in all season. For me, the highlight of the year was the Conference chip, it was nice that we were able to get that for [seniors] Harry [O’Neil] and Mac [Rowan]. This was a special group of guys and I’m going to miss Harry and Mac, the leadership they provided was truly invaluable.”