BALTIMORE, MD -- The AMCC Champion La Roche men's basketball program continues to reach new heights with their second-ever NCAA Tournament appearance. The Redhawks fought and battled #12 Johns Hopkins for all forty minutes, but the Blue Jays pulled away late. Johns Hopkins held on and advanced to the second round as the Redhawks fell 52-39.
The Blue Jays had the hot hand early and jumped ahead 10-2 at the first media timeout. RayQuan Phifer picked off a pass at half court and blew past a John Hopkins' defender for the Redhawks' first points of the tournament.
La Roche cut it to 10-6 by the second media time with just under twelve minutes in the half. The Redhawks' perimeter defense denied Johns Hopkins from long range and Phifer swatted away their only layup attempt. Phifer and Norkus each hit layups.
Norkus and Phifer created matchup nightmares for the Blue Jays. Norkus provided 3 points, 5 rebounds and drew 3 fouls in the first ten minutes. Phifer scored four points and picked off three passes.
Johns Hopkins made a run heading into the half's final media timeout. They held La Roche without a field goal for over a six minute stretch and upped their lead to 21-10.
The Redhawks answered Johns Hopkins run with four straight points and entered the half trailing just 23-17.
Phifer led the Redhawks with 6 points and 3 steals. Etheridge, Bajgora and Norkus each had 5 rebounds.
Both teams struggled shooting. Johns Hopkins shot just 29% (9 of 31) and La Roche 21% (6 of 28). Teams were nearly even on the boards with the Blue Jays pulling down just one more board.
An Etheridge layup at 17:31 of the second half got the Redhawks within a three-pointer of tying it. Johns Hopkins began to sink threes and stretched their lead to 39-27 at the second media timeout.
La Roche answered again cutting the deficit to six with eight minutes left. Bajgora and Norkus hit jumpers and Zach Gould hit a pair of free throws.
The Redhawks offense stalled and Johns Hopkins began to pull away. La Roche continued to battle and Darrell Barron rejected two Blue Jays shots in the final five minutes. They closed the game with four straight points, but Johns Hopkins earned the fourteen point victory.
Gould scored a team-high 12 points while Phifer had 9 points and Norkus 7 points. Bajgora reached double-digit rebounds with 10 and Phifer had 4 steals.
The Redhawks defense was excellent. They held Johns Hopkins to one of their lowest scoring and worst shooting games. La Roche however, struggled from the field and converted just 24% (14 of 59 FG) of their shots.