Dons Beat Bishops
MCMECHEN — Free-throws proved to be the deciding factor down the stretch as Madonna rallied from 14 points down in the third quarter to shock host Bishop Donahue 65-61 on Tuesday.
Madonna (5-4) connected on 11 of 16 foul shots in the fourth quarter with Joey Ewusiack delivering on nine of his 10 attempts from the charity stripe in the final frame to lead the Dons.
The game was knotted at 61-61 when Ewusiack drew a foul with just three seconds to play in the game, he calmly drained both shots. He followed his go-ahead buckets by stealing the inbound pass and drawing another foul, before sealing the victory for the Dons with another pair of free-throws.
“We made our foul shots,” Madonna coach Chris Blair said. “We shot a ton of them in the fourth quarter because we were aggressive and got to the line and we iced the game from the foul line.
“Bishop Donahue came out strong. This is a tough place to play and there was a lot riding on this game. I am proud of the way our guys bounced back.”
Tavon Jeter led the Blue Dons with 26 points and Ewusiack finished the game with 23 points, which puts him just eight points shy of 1,000 career points.
“We expect them to score between 20-25 points,” Blair said. “That is their role and their job and they did their job (Tuesday).”
The turnover with three seconds remaining in the game was the clincher for Madonna and Bishops’ coach Thomas Wise, was disappointed in the team’s execution of the play.
“We turned it over at a critical time late in the game,” Wise said. “We didn’t line up right and did not run what we practiced. The key to the game was turnovers. On that last play we were trying to get the tying shot and we threw it away and didn’t do what we needed to do to win.”
After Bishop Donahue (7-3) extended its lead to 39-25 early in the third quarter, the Blue Dons finished the frame on a 17-5 run behind 12 points from Jeter in the third, to cut the score to 44-42 heading into the final eight minutes.
Madonna opened the fourth on a 7-0 run to take a 49-44 edge with 6:27 left before the Bishops tallied a quick five points to tie the game with six minutes to go.
Both teams continued to swap buckets down the stretch but Madonna took a 61-58 lead with just 1:10 on the clock after a layup by Jeter.
With a defensive stop, Madonna could have clinched the win but Koltin Kleeh had other plans and he stepped behind the arch and drilled a 3-pointer to tie the game with 56 seconds left in the game.
The contest remained tied as the Dons held the ball for the final shot, which led to Ewusiack drawing the foul and sinking the game-winning free-throws.
“We came together as a group,” Blair said. “The game was on the line and we did a much better job of staying poised and keeping our composure.
“I want to congratulate our team for playing good defense. Taylor Straughn and Kleeh are great players and tough matchups for anybody but I thought we competed defensively and on the boards.”
Madonna held a 21-16 advantage early in the second quarter but the Bishops finished the half on an 18-4 run to take a 34-25 lead into halftime.
“There is no doubt this will benefit us down the stretch,” Wise said. “However, in the long run, we lost a big lead too and that is our fault. We have to live with it and fix it and that starts tomorrow.”
Kleeh paced the Bishops with 23 points, Straughn garnered 14, Trey Miller accounted for 10 and Logan Ruckh supplied nine.
Madonna won the rebound battle by a 29-22 count and committed 16 turnovers, while Bishop Donahue only had 12 miscues.