Junior guard Conner Delaney — playing just 20 minutes from where he grew up — drained a 17-foot jumper as time expired to lift the eighth-ranked Johns Hopkins men's basketball team to a 73-71 win over top-ranked and previously unbeaten Swarthmore in the Centennial Conference Championship game Saturday evening at Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.
Delaney, who scored Hopkins' final eight points, took possession after the Blue Jays came up with a big defensive stop at the other end with just over 30 seconds remaining. He dribbled out all but the last several seconds at the top of the key before drifting to his right and dropping in his game-winner under heavy defensive pressure to give the Blue Jays their second Centennial title in the last three years.
In a game with 12 ties and 12 lead changes, neither team led by more than five and the Garnet had a three-point lead at 65-62 with under four minutes remaining before a Braeden Johnson 3-pointer tied the game at 65 with 3:18 to play. Swarthmore than bookended a three from Delaney with four free throws to grab a 69-68 lead with 2:16 on the clock.
Another Delaney triple was answered by a Vinny DeAngelo jumper with 96 seconds remaining before Delaney misfired from deep with just over a minute remaining. George Visconti missed a jumper and a three in the next 30 seconds and Johnson grabbed the second rebound to set up Delaney's game-winner. Blue Jay head coach Josh Loeffler did not call a timeout and everyone in the standing-room-only crowd of nearly 1,300 knew who would take the final shot; all that was left was for Delaney to punctuate his tournament MVP performance with his buzzer-beating game-winner.
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A back-and-forth first-half ended with the Garnet, who had swept the Blue Jays in the regular season, leading 41-38 as Nate Shafer (12 points), Vinny DeAngelo (11) and Visconti (10) combined for 33 points in the opening 20 minutes.
The Blue Jays used a 6-0 run, courtesy of two Delaney 3-pointers, to grab 57-53 lead, but the Garnet answered with a 9-2 spurt that was fueled by five points from DeAngelo and capped with a Visconti jumper to grab a 62-59 lead with just over eight minutes remaining.
Swarthmore held the lead for the next five minutes before Johnson's three-pointer tied the game at 65 and set the stage for Delaney's late-game heroics.
What it Means
• Johns Hopkins earns the Centennial Conference's automatic bid to the upcoming NCAA Tournament.
• The 24 wins for the Blue Jays this season are one shy of the school single-season record.
• Swarthmore is the first number-one ranked team Johns Hopkins has ever beaten in men's basketball. The Garnet were the last unbeaten men's basketball team in the nation (at any level of the NCAA).
• This was the third consecutive year the Blue Jays and Garnet have met in the Centennial title game. All three games have been at Swarthmore with the Blue Jays taking the even-year matchups.
Inside the Box Score
• Delaney was the only Blue Jay to score in double figures as his 32 points were a game-high and matched his career-high. He added eight assists and three rebounds to secure his tournament MVP award.
• Johnson scored nine points off the bench as he was 3-of-7 on 3-pointers. The Blue Jay bench outscored the Swarthmore bench 21-1 in the game.
• DeAngelo scored a team-high 23 points for Swarthmore, which also got 18 from Shafer and 14 from Visconti.
• The teams combined to commit just 14 turnovers (7 each) in the well-played game.