Jays Wear Down Tigers with Defensive Intensity, Prevail on Road
Relentless defensive intensity, a patient offense, and timely clutch shooting lifted the Jesuit basketball team to a 51-36 district win at Holy Cross on Tuesday, Feb. 2.
From the opening tip, the Jays served notice that everything would be contested. Every possession was a war, with battles the full length of the floor.
The Tigers only managed nine points in the first eight minutes as Jesuit took a 10-9 lead on a Hunt Conroy buzzer-beating three-pointer.
Conroy promptly sunk a shot on Jesuit’s first possession of the second quarter, and the Jays kept up the pressure on the defensive end, eventually taking a 21-17 lead into halftime.
The Jays made their move in the third quarter, outscoring Holy Cross 13-2 to build their lead to 34-19. Sophomore Michael Hull set the tone for the quarter with back-to-back buckets early in the frame.
The fourth quarter was a foul-filled affair with both teams struggling to convert from the charity stripe. But coach Chris Jennings ’78 wasn’t too upset about free throw percentages. “When you play hard, you miss free throws,” said Jennings.
Indeed, the free throw struggles weren’t limited to Jesuit’s end. And, fourth quarter aside, the overall numbers weren’t too bad for the Jays. They converted 19 of 30 attempts from the free throw line (63%). The Tigers, meanwhile, exhausted by the energy they had to expend on each possession just to get a look at the basket, only managed to sink 5-13 from the charity stripe (38%). Several of those misses were front ends of one-and-one situations.
Jesuit’s defensive intensity and offensive patience showed up in the field goal percentages as well. Holy Cross shot 37% on the night, hitting only one of nine from three-point range. Jesuit, meanwhile, created good looks all night off its motion offense and ended up shooting 54% from the field.
Jennings, who actually seemed to crack a smile during a time-out at the two-minute mark, was obviously happy with his team’s performance.”There’s no doubt about it. Defensive intensity was the story of this game,” said Jennings. “That and Mark Beebe getting some critical baskets early.”
Beebe, a senior, played his best game of the year, finishing the night with 13 points and seven rebounds. Conroy, a junior, matched Beebe with 13 points of his own. Junior Will Hillery added nine points. Hull pulled down seven rebounds, scored five points, and accounted for three steals.
With the win, The Jays improve to 8-15 overall and 3-5 in district play. Next up is a Friday, Feb. 5 contest with John Curtis. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 in the Birdcage.