Washington D.C. -- It was late in the third quarter, and Paul VI just retook a 38-37 lead when Casey Morsell was barreling down the rim looking for a layup that would've given his Cadets a one-point lead. But Villlanova-signee Brandon Slater swooped in and sent the would-be bucket deep into the sideline, letting out a passionate yell in the aftermath.
It was a tale of two halves in the 62-57 Panther victory. St. John's and PVI played at a furious pace all evening, with SJC setting the pace and a physical tone. The intense environment allowed both teams to lay everything down on the court, diving for loose balls and playing thier hearts out for a hard-fought victory.
In the first half the Cadets were able to block a block a pair of shots and force a trio of steals. They also forced the Panthers to miss their first five shots before Jeremy Robinson nailed a layup off an offensive rebound. Navy-signee Richard Njoku was able to establish a physical presence inside, receiving a trio of dunks from guards Tre Woods and Delonnie Hunt. His 10 points all came in the first half, as he battled foul trouble in the second half. At the end of the first half, SJC was leading 28-21. PVI was lead by Trevor Keels (6 points) and Brandon Slater (5 points). The Cadets were led by the aforementioned Njoku as well as junior Casey Morsell
The Panthers opened up the second half on 12-2 run, highlighted by back-to-back steals and layups by junior guard Anthony Harris. His second steal in the sequence lead to an and-1 layup that gave the Panthers the lead after Harris hit the free throw. The Panthers would subsequently force a Cadets shot clock violation. Hunt would temporarily take the lead back for the Cadets when he hit a nifty reverse layup, creating a 37-35 lead. Avery Ford would go on a personal 5-0 run when he hit an and-1 layup and free throw, he then hit a putback layup to give PVI a 40-37 lead heading into the final frame.
The fourth quarter didn't dissapoint, with the Cadets and Panthers trading buckets. Tre Wood refused to let his Cadets squad go down as he scored seven of his 13 points while also handing out an assist to Casey Morsell on a 3-pointer. In the latter moments of the climactic final fram, Wood would have a chance to tie up the game 53-all but would clank his last free throw of the evening. Roach would then take the rebound on that miss and race down for a transition layup that would give his team a 55-52 lead. After Ishmael Legget would hit a layup to cut the game to make it a 1-point lead, Roach would respond with a killer 3-pointer to give PVI a 58-54 lead. Freshman guard Trevor Keels would close out the contest, hitting all four free throws.