FORT GREENE - In an eagerly anticipated rematch from a game that Molloy dominated at home 3 weeks ago to upset Bishop Loughlin, the Stanners met the Lions on Tuesday, this time in Brooklyn.
Even with the win 3 weeks ago, Molloy was still feeling disrespected, and came out wanting to prove a point. A point that they should be taken seriously. Point proven as the Stanners overcame an 8 point 1st half deficit to come back and pull another upset on Loughlin, this time on the road, 64-62.
Bishop Loughlin started out the game without Khadeen Carrington and Jordan Nanton in the starting lineup. Lions head coach Ed Gonzalez said it was his decision to bench the 2 starters, and that it wasn't a big thing.
"Just wanted to do something different. It's my choice. Just some internal stuff I took care of, but we're fine." the coach stated.
It did look that even without the backcourt duo to start that they would be fine. Mike Williams looked extremely sharp early on scoring 8 points in the opening quarter, and Issac Boden knocked down a corner three late in the first to see the Lions up 14-7 after 1.
Chaz Watler was the saving grace for Molloy to keep them in the game early on. He was aggressive in moving off screens and getting free for good clean looks at the basket. Marlo Kozul was a handful on the inside as well, cleaning up on the glass and causing havoc in the paint before 2 fouls put him on the bench.
Carrington and Nanton both entered with 4:14 left in the 2nd quarter with Loughlin comfortably ahead 18-11. Carrington got involved right away knocking down a 3 from the left wing as the Lions saw the lead open to 8 late in the half, but C.J. Davis connected on a beautiful floater in the lane and Jason Cethoute finished on a tough drive to help the Stanners grab some momentum down just 27-23 at the break.
Loughlin was able to maintain the lead for much of the 3rd with big man Anthony Vernon showing good footwork to finish on back to back baskets in the paint. Nanton was also running the floor nicely and helping the Lions finish in transition. Loughlin was up 37-33 when Davis used hit on a tough runner down the left side, and then off a steal it was Watler who finished off a drive down the right side. Molloy would finish the 3rd on a 9-0 run and the Stanners had grabbed the lead 42-37 after 3.
The lead grew to start the 4th, Jayvian Delacruz hit a three in the right corner to open the quarter, but that was followed by 6 straight from Molloy punctuated by a deep 2 from the wing by Davis, who seemed to be stepping up his game, to give the Stanners a 48-40 lead with 5:53 to go.
The lead grew to as big as 10, and the game could've been out away much earlier had Molloy not missed 8 FT's in the final 3 minutes to let Loughlin stay alive. Carrington would get right to the basket for easy scores and the Stanners would go 1 for 2 from the line almost every time down. A Nanton drive actually cut the Molloy lead to just 4 with 9 seconds left, Davis would hit 1 of 2 from the line after being fouled to put the game away. Carrington hit a meaningless 3 at the buzzer, but Molloy still pulled out the tough 64-62 road victory.
Watler led all scorers with 19 points for Molloy, with Davis adding 18, and Kozul finishing with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Loughlin was led by Carrington's 16 points, and Williams 10, though all 10 came in the first half.
It was more than a big win for Molloy, it was a statement win. Coach Jack Curran called Loughlin a very tough place to win, and seemed proud at what the team accomplished.
"I'm amazed because they really showed me a lot out there today. They proved to be really mentally tough." Curran said.
A win on the road like this shows Molloy is the real deal, something Davis said is a goal they were trying to accomplish.
"We wanted to come out and make a statement today. Everyone sees us as the underdog so this win was a way we could say hey, we can win it this year. Molloy can win it."
Watler, who agreed on the notion that Molloy gets overlooked by many, came into this game confident that they would get the win, regardless of how tough it is to play at Loughlin.
"We kinda think they are overrated. We came into the game thinking we were gonna win.." Watler said.
Molloy came in confident and ready, but Loughlin was sloppy and not focused, something that the Lions coach saw early on.
"We were flat. I can't explain that and don't know why. We had too many turnovers and were very sloppy with the ball. I think if we gave a better effort we would've won but oh well. I think we will see them again." Gonzalez said.
It's a great way to start the week for Molloy though. A road win against a very good Loughlin team, and now a home matchup with Christ the King awaits on Friday night. Curran said he didn't stress the importance of these games because he believes the kids know just how important they are.
But can they win against the Royals? We will find out, but Watler said it best after the game when talking about what this team needs to do to win.
"We played as a team out there today. Got everyone involved. When we play as a team we will win games." he said.
If they play as a team again Friday night, it should be a great one to see.
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