WEST HAVEN — With a pair of losses entering its rivalry game against West Haven, the Notre Dame-West Haven boys basketball team could have gone one of two ways. For coach Jason Shea, he got to see what his team was made of.
Trailing by five late in the third quarter, the Green Knights turned up their defense and closed the game on a 26-5 run to defeat previously undefeated West Haven 63-47 at Neil Cavallaro Court at West Haven High on Monday.
“We showed a lot of composure,” Shea said after his team improved to 6-2. “We were calm under pressure. We were able to execute, and we did a great job. We are playing some young guards. They played amazing tonight. I am proud of the entire team.”
Trailing 42-37 after West Haven’s Eli Blackwell hit a pair of free throws late in the third quarter, the Green Knights closed the quarter on an 8-0 run which they eventually stretched to a 52-42 lead with 1:07 gone by in the fourth quarter.
Ben Carroll and Mekhi Conner each scored four points to close out the third quarter, before three free throws and a bucket by Carroll extended the margin to 10 points early in the fourth for Notre Dame.
“I just love the way we came out and played defense tonight,” Carroll said. “If we come out and play defense like that, not many teams are going to be able to play with us.”
For the Westies, ranked ninth in the latest GameTimeCT Top 10, it was a tale of two halves as they were held to just 15 points in the second half, hitting just five shots from the field, four coming in the third quarter. West Haven’s inability to build on the five-point lead proved to be the difference.
“As the leader of the program, I need to do a better job of getting these guys ready to play and I will,” West Haven coach Tyrese Sullivan said after his team fell to 5-1. “After dealing with the success we have had, we need to be ready. This one is on me. As the leader of the program, I have to have the team ready and I will. Sometimes basketball is like that. Notre Dame wanted it a little more. We had the lead and could not build on it. We did not take advantage.”
After a pair of free throws by Javaun Calhoun got West Haven within 52-44 with 6:42 remaining, the Green Knights went on a 7-0 run on buckets by Timaury Gay and Robert Oliverio for a 59-44 lead. Calhoun drained a 3-pointer to get West Haven within 12 with 2:35 remaining, but the Green Knights sealed the contest from the free throw line.
“I think they (West Haven) had an off night shooting,” Shea said. “That happens. Our guys were really scrambling out there and we did not give them much.”
Carroll finished with a game-high 23 points, including 10 in the second half. Conner had 16 points, 10 coming in the first half, and James Rawlins finished with nine points as Notre Dame had seven players in the scoring column.
“I think the two losses woke us up,” Carroll said. “I felt like we needed to have this game. The energy started to shift (end of third quarter) and we held it down on defense. I loved the energy we brought tonight.”
The Westies had three players in double figures, led by Blackwell’s 14 points. Calhoun finished with 12 points and Malcolm Duncanson had 10 in the loss, including the 1,000th of his career.
“We got punched in the eye tonight,” Sullivan said. “That happens sometimes. They got the best of us tonight. You have to credit Notre Dame.”
West Haven held a 30-24 second quarter lead on a basket by Kyle Kearson, before the Green Knights closed the first half on a 9-2 run. 3-pointers by Conner and Oliverio evened the game at 30 for the Green Knights with 1:54 left in the half.
Congratulations to West Haven’s Malcolm Duncanson on scoring his 1000th career point tonight vs. Notre Dame of West Haven! pic.twitter.com/yZMVVFc7b2
— Blue Devil Athletics (@CoachMorrell1) March 9, 2021
Duncanson, who scored his 1,000th career point earlier in the contest to give West Haven a 19-14 advantage, then hit another bucket to put the Westies up 32-30. A basket by Carroll and a free throw by Matthew Dobie put Notre Dame on top by one at the half.
Carroll was on fire for the Green Knights as he scored 13 first half points, including seven in the second quarter. Carroll also connected for three 3-pointers in the opening 16 minutes.
Blackwell was just as torrid for the Westies in the opening half as he drained three 3-pointers in the first quarter, and finished with 12 points in the first half. Blackwell gave West Haven leads on three separate occasions with the 3-pointer, putting the Westies on top 5-3, 8-5 and 15-14 in the opening quarter.
Player of the Game
Ben Carroll, ND-WH: The senior finished with 23 points, including two buckets which gave the Green Knights the lead for good late in the third quarter.
“We got punched in the eye tonight. That happens sometimes. They got the best of us tonight. You have to credit Notre Dame.”
— West Haven coach Tyrese Sullivan
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