HYATTSVILLE — As soon as Carsten Kolgenik’s 3-pointer banked in at the end of the first quarter, fans and students alike knew the soldout contest between Gonzaga and DeMatha would once again unfold as a classic.
“They’re clearly a rival, Steve [Turner] and I have battled for years,” DeMatha head coach Mike Jones said. “It’s fun, honestly. It’s really a lot of fun.”
With playoff implications at stake, the Stags were able to pull out the much-needed 82-75 victory over the Eagles to create a three-way tie with Gonzaga and Paul VI for top seeding in the upcoming WCAC tournament. With two games remaining, DeMatha is unsure if winning out will guarantee them home-court advantage for the postseason.
“They beat us at their house,” Ryan Allen said of DeMatha’s 76-63 loss to Gonzaga on January 24. “[There] was a lot of smack talk on Twitter. We all saw that, and it basically just fired us up to play harder today.”
DeMatha’s Allen and D.J. Harvey turned in memorable performances on senior night, scoring 34 and 25 points respectively. Allen also drilled six 3’s and provided highlight after highlight.
“After every shot I felt like the rim got better,” Allen said with a grin. “My teammates encouraged me to shoot so that’s what I did.”
The Deleware commit also went toe-to-toe with Miami commit Chris Lykes, a former AAU teammate.
Late in the second quarter, the duel between the two guards went full-throttle as Lykes started a sequence of 3’s to give Gonzaga leads of 39-36 and 42-36. The next trip down, Allen performed a crossover and nailed a pull-up jumper to make it a 42-38 game.
The final frame didn’t disappoint as Harvey shouldered the load after Allen had to sit with his fourth foul. Harvey scored 11 points in the final frame, hitting mid-range jumpers, going to the rack and even conversions at the free throw line. For the last two years, free throws have been a source of chagrin for Harvey, as the Gonzaga faithful heckled him about his letdown at the stripe in the WCAC championship game two years ago.
“For him as a player to take criticism and turn it into a positive where he just focused on free throws, and he didn’t take it the wrong way, he took it the right way, and just got better at it,” Allen said.
Allen put the nail in the coffin when he hit his final shot of the night with less than 25 seconds left to make it 80-75. Gonzaga had one last chance to threaten, but Myles Dread missed a 3-pointer at the top of the key.
For Gonzaga (22-5, 14-3) plays Bishop Ireton tomorrow evening in the regular season finale. DeMatha (21-5, 13-4), meanwhile, concludes their season with games against St. Mary’s Ryken on Saturday and Paul VI on Monday.
Jones also picked up his 400th career win as the head coach at DeMatha.