The St. Mary’s Panthers played one of their worst games of the season on Friday night. Luckily for them, their opponent played even worse.
The Panthers survived a myriad of turnovers and missed shots to beat Kennedy, 66-58, in Berkeley, to preserve their undefeated league record. With Kennedy’s two top players fouled out early in the fourth quarter, St. Mary’s still struggled to pull away, but guard Terrence Boyd scored 8 points down the stretch to ensure the win.
“It’s good to get out alive of a game like that,” St. Mary’s head coach Jose Caraballo said. “Even though we didn’t play well, we were still able to pull out the victory.”
Caraballo got 14 points from forward Chase Moore and 12 points each from Boyd and point guard DeShawn Freeman, but shooting guard John Sharper suffered a terrible slump, hitting just 2-of-14 from the field and missing all six of his 3-point attempts. For a player who led the team in scoring during Freeman’s extended absence earlier this season due to a stress fracture, it was an uncharacteristic night.
Sharper, Freeman and Moore combined for 13 steals in the game. The St. Mary’s press caused bunches of turnovers by the Eagles, including 10 in the third quarter alone, but the Panthers didn’t turn them into points, keeping the game close. They didn’t grab a lead of more than eight points until Kennedy stars Devin Peal and Leland Mapp both fouled out with more than five minutes left in the game. With the two forwards on the bench, St. Mary’s opened a lead of 60-47 before several baskets by Kennedy point guard Jay Doss closed the gap with seconds remaining.
Both Peal and Mapp sat for long stretches of the first half with foul trouble, and Peal ended the game with just 4 points. Mapp had 17 points in his limited action, but it was Doss who gave St. Mary’s the most trouble, scoring a game-high 26 points on a variety of drives and pull-up jumpers.
“It actually seemed like they played better without (Peal and Mapp). The point guard killed us tonight,” Caraballo said.
But Doss’s heroics weren’t nearly enough for the Eagles, as their bench players contributed little and looked spooked trying to get the ball through the St. Mary’s press. Caraballo said even when his team shoots as badly as it did on Friday night, he can always count on defensive effort to give them a chance.
“One thing my kids always do is play hard,” he said. “They’ve got experience and hustle, and that’s what got us through tonight.”