WASHINGTON, D.C. — Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.) showed earlier this season it could play without Brandon Slater when he missed several games with pneumonia. Friday, with Slater sidelined for the season with a broken left hand, the seventh-ranked Panthers showed they could do it again, winning at 58-51 at No. 8 Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.).
Sophomore point guard Jeremy Roach scored 10 of his game-high 21 points in the fourth quarter to ensure the win, overcoming a strong fourth-quarter effort from Gonzaga’s Terrance Williams, who had eight of his 16 points in the final quarter.
“I just had to keep being aggressive,” Roach said. “In the first half, they weren’t giving me the calls, but in the second half, they did. Coach always tells us it’s a new season at the end of the season and now with Brandon out, we have to prepare for that role.”
Paul VI coach Glenn Farello joked that Slater, a Villanova signee, was the only undefeated assistant on the squad. Slater sent out a text to the rest of the team after he found out his hand was broken after a win over Archbishop Carroll (Washington, D.C.) on Tuesday.
“The first thing he said was ‘No excuses,’ ” Farello said. “I love that mentality. He’s a huge piece of what we do. He’s the heart and soul of the team and our guys want to rally around him.”
“I helped out a little with the scouting,” Slater said. “I’m glad to see they can still get it done without me.”
Roach was one of three guards who were able to parry the Eagles’ pressure. Anthony Harris had 16 points and Trevor Keels also pushed the pace for the Panthers (24-2), who wrapped up at least a tie for the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference regular-season title.
“It takes a lot of pressure off all of us,” Roach said. “We have three primary ball-handlers and they were trying to deny me the whole game, but I knew Anthony could bring it up the court and wouldn’t turn it over.”
Gonzaga (22-3) took a 26-25 lead at the half behind seven points from Myles Dread. At one point, the Eagles went on a 7-2 run to lead by three, but it was back-and-forth for the whole half. Harris had eight points for the Panthers in the first half.
There was a nice sportsmanship moment at the beginning of the game as both teams traded free baskets, giving Gonzaga player Prentiss Hubb, a Notre Dame signee who has been out the entire season with an ACL injury, to make a layup on senior night.
“We all appreciate each other in this league and what we have to go through, the grind each night,” Eagles coach Steve Turner said. “It’s fun to see three teams nationally ranked, but we knew a couple of us are going to get bumped out because no one is going to go undefeated. I think the respect the coaches have for each other is why we were able to something special for (Hubb) on senior night.”