"That was as poorly as we've played in a half all year," said Green of the team's first half performance. "We just couldn't shoot the basketball and that was starting to get really frustrating."
Green's buzzer-beater was a boost to the team's morale, according to St. Mary's head coach Tim Cluess.
"It just seemed like there was a lid on the basket, and that was something good that happened going into halftime," Cluess said. "I was able to tell them that we just played our worst half of the season, we are missing a few players to injury, and we are still only down four to a very good team. To the kids' credit, we kept on fighting, and Danny came through with the big play at crunch time."
St. Mary's shot only 6-24 from three point range for the game, and if you take out Danny Green's 3-5 performance shot an abysmal 16.3% from beyond the arc. Without shooting the ball well from the outside and with Green and his teammates finding trouble making shots down low, it took scrappy defense and a plethora of offensive rebounds for St. Mary's to squeeze out the win.
One play in particular drew a response from the crowd aside from Green's bomb, and it fittingly came on a missed shot. Green came flying in from the wing and threw down a two-handed dunk that forced the refs to push the rim back into position throughout the rest of the night. Green also made the clinching free throw at the end of the game after coming up with a crucial offensive rebound.
"It was really nice for us to get a win and for me to play pretty well with Coach Williams here," said Green. "He said that he liked the way I had played and we talked about the North Carolina team a bit. I can't wait to get there and play with them and for Coach Williams." St. Mary's coach Tim Cluess said that he was forced to call Green's number a bit more than he usually does because of the caliber of defense that St. Patrick's was playing. He was thrilled that Green was able to perform at such a high level in front of his future coach, who spent time with Cluess and his family after the game.
"Danny is such a great kid, and I'm thrilled that he got to play in front of Coach Williams and played well, showed some of what he can do," Cluess said. "He scores in bunches and he can do what he did in the first half and then contribute on the boards, blocking shots, getting steals."
St. Mary's plays tomorrow at 7:45 against Ridgeway (Memphis), a team which features highly ranked Pierre Niles in the post and athletes up and down their roster. Dealing with the size and skill of a player like Niles will be challenging for a team lacking a true big man, but if St. Mary's continues to play with the scrappiness and defensive intensity that they did against St. Patrick's it may be enough to claim the school's first national invitational championship.
It seemed as if D.J. Augustin was having an off night. Throughout the game, it didn't appear that he was hitting his shots and he tallied only three assists to four turnovers. When the stats were compiled at the end of the game, however, he had scored 24 points on 7-14 from the field with five three pointers, including a crucial bomb from long range with 1:22 remaining in the 65-62 Brother Martin victory over Aiken.
"That was the key play of the game, when we answered their three to take the lead with a three of our own to go up two," said Brother Martin head coach John Lavie. "It forced them into a situation after we got a stop that they had to foul."
Brother Martin had built up a 15 point lead at the half, but the scrappy local team from Aiken battled back throughout the second stanza and took the lead with 1:48 remaining. Augustin then took an outlet pass on the wing and found the bottom of the net, and his team wound never trail again. With Roy Williams and Skip Prosser in attendance and a wrap on his bruised left hand, Augustin was able to make the big shot when it counted.
"Coach had told us to just stay calm, make good passes, don't turn the ball over and don't force anything," said Augustin of their play late in the game.
With Aiken's sophomore Marshall Moses, who played extremely well in the team's first two games, limited to six points on 3-10 shooting the home team was unable to contend with Brother Rice's athleticism in the first half. In the second, however, as Brother Rice's outside shooting cooled, the local team seemed to have an energy level that the visitors couldn't match. Until Augustin's shot, the momentum had been all Aiken's way, but as the clock would down the momentum shifted.
"My job is to get my teammates involved, to do what needs to be done to win games, and I'm just trying to get better every day," Augustin said. "I'm focused on the season and winning games with my team, and even with coaches here from schools that is not what I'm thinking about."