Gordon Tech succeeded in taking the air out of the ball Saturday night.
In the end, though, St. Joseph took the sails out of Gordon Tech’s upset bid, coming up with some key defensive plays to beat the visiting Rams 41-35 in overtime in Catholic League North action in Westchester.
“They tried to slow the game down,” St. Joseph guard Joffery Brown said. “They were a younger team so they just tried to slow us down because speeding the ball up in transition is our style of game.
“So I guess they figured if they held the ball on offense and ran their sets, they would frustrate us. But we stuck together and we fought through it.”
After neither team led by more than three points in regulation, Brown scored five of his 14 points in overtime as the No.7 Chargers (16-3, 8-0) tallied the first eight points of the extra session.
Glynn Watson, who scored a game-high 15 points, gave St. Joseph the lead with a 12-foot pull-up jumper and then Brown stole the ball on two of the next three possessions. He turned them into two free throws and a layup to make it 37-30 with 1:43 left.
“Through the whole fourth quarter I was studying the offense that they were running and the guy that I was guarding the whole time,” Brown said. “So I knew that once the ball was going [one] way, my guy would come up, so I just cheated, figuring if I missed, I had help, but if I didn’t [miss], there was a wide-open layup.”
There were few wide-open opportunities for either side in a contest that harkened back to the style of the 1950s.
Gordon Tech (10-9, 1-3) led 18-16 at halftime before St. Joseph switched to a 2-2-1 zone press, which limited the Rams offensively but did nothing to juice the score. The third quarter was particularly dull as the Chargers took only three shots, making two, while the Rams went 1-for-5.
The Rams actually had a chance to win in regulation after David Holiday’s three-point play gave them a 30-28 lead with 1:21 to go.
But Watson tied the game on a 15-foot jumper with 55 seconds left and the Rams were unable to get anywhere near the basket on their final possession, which ended when Octavius Parker launched an off-balance air ball from 25 feet at the buzzer.
St. Joseph held Gordon Tech scoreless in overtime until Parker drained a three-pointer with 44 seconds left. Holiday then made two foul shots to pull the Rams within 38-35 with 21 seconds remaining.
Watson’s two free throws two seconds later iced the game and Brown finished the scoring by splitting a pair at the line with six ticks left.
Even St. Joseph coach Gene Pingatore, who has been coaching since 1960, hasn’t seen many such low-scoring affairs.
“We’ve had a few like that, but not that kind of a game,” Pingatore said. “Shoot, they wanted to keep the score down and they did a very good job of doing it, too.”
Despite the deliberate style, it was a well-played game, with the Chargers making just seven turnovers and shooting 8-for-12 from the floor after halftime.
“When we went to the 2-2-1, that slowed them up a little bit and that’s when we turned them over to get the edge at the end,” said Pingatore, who was without star guard Jordan Ash and 6-9 center Nick Rakocevic. “Not during the game, but at the end.”
Parker led Gordon Tech with nine points, while Raequan Williams added eight points and 10 rebounds.