WHEELING - It was going to be hard to top Linsly and Bishop Donahue's previous meeting, but the two teams might have done just that Thursday night at Stifel Field House.
Fortunately for Coach James Wallace and his young Linsly squad, this one also went in favor of the Cadets, 74-73, as they try to secure a home game for upcoming OVAC Tournament.
''We played really hard and we've made a lot of strides,'' Wallace said. ''We play relentless for 32 minutes of basketball and no matter what happens in terms of the score, the crowd, we are doing a great job of doing what we need to do to win.
Linsly’s Anthony Wallace (14) looks to pass as Bishop Donahue’s Austin Ghaphery (3) closes in defensively Thursday night.
Photo by Josh Strope
''(Thursday) was a good example of that. Bishop made a run in the third quarter and got a couple easy ones and our guys decided in the timeout that enough was enough. We were gonna make it happen.''
In the Jan. 12 meeting, Linsly standout Akil Blount exploded for 40 points. The Florida A&M football recruit had a solid night with 19 points and 15 rebounds, not to mention a key block in the closing minutes.
While Bishop Donahue did a good job of keeping Blount under control, the Bishops had no answer for Anthony Wallace.
Wallace scored a game-high 31 points to pace the Cadets (10-6). In the fourth quarter, he drained two 3-pointers and scored 11 of his total.
Also stepping up big was Toddy Goodwin-Rowe. Goodwin-Rowe had nine of his 11 points in the final quarter.
His biggest moment came with Linsly trailing by one at 61-60 with less than 4 minutes remaining.
Goodwin-Rowe came up short on a 3-pointer, but chased down his rebound, drove to the basket and layed it in despite taking a hard foul. He finished the three-point play and Linsly went up 63-61, its first lead since 24-23 in the second quarter.
''We ask some of our younger guys as the season has progressed to take on a bigger role,'' Coach Wallace said. ''One of the things we wanted from Toddy was to finish at the rim more. He sure did it (Thursday). We gave him the responsibility and he came through down the stretch.
''Bishop Donahue was doing a great job on keeping Akil and Anthony away from the bucket. He was going to the hoop fearlessly.''
Added Bishop Donahue coach Tom Wise: ''We did a good job on the young Blount (Jabri) and Akil in the second half, I expect Wallace to score, but the kid that really stepped up for them was Goodwin. He had one basket the whole game and gets nine in the fourth quarter. That was a huge difference. We hadn't seen him play like that and give the young man credit, he played well.
''We played mostly zone and this the first time we've done that all year. It worked the first half. It worked most of the second half, but we had a couple breakdowns, didn't cover some designated areas and a couple shots didn't go in. You live and you learn.''
Bishop Donahue (12-4) went into halftime with an eight-point lead following a furious 1-minute stretch that saw Bryce Jones hit a 3-pointer, followed by an answer from Anthony Wallace. As time expired, Jones hit another 3 from the corner for the halftime margin.
Linsly cut the deficit to three points heading into the fourth quarter.
The Bishops led 61-57 with 4:17 on the clock when Colton Coss hit his lone basket, a 3 to make it a one-point game. Austin Ghaphery missed on the other end, leading to Goodwin-Roe's hoop and harm.
D.T. Meeker tied it back up with two free throws and Goodwin-Roe scored his final points to give Linsly the lead back.
Akil Blount blocked Chad Reidel on the other end and was true on two free throws on the ensuing possession as Linsly took a four-point lead, its largest of the game.
Jones connected on his fifth 3-pointer (team-high 17 points), to make it 67-66 in favor of Linsly, only to have Anthony Wallace answer with a 3 of his own with 1:40 remaining.
Meeker cut the lead in half with a basket and after a Goodwin-Roe miss, Ghaphery missed a layup on the other end that would have tied it. From there it became a free-throw shooting contest for the Cadets, who iced the game four down the stretch.
''I thought we let one get away,'' Wise said. ''We were up nine with the momentum in our favor. We have lost four games, with two to Linsly. We have lost to good teams. We just have to get over the hump and I think we'll be fine. Getting there has been a struggle but we have Madonna this Saturday and that is always a big rivalry for us and we look forward to that.''