SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) guard DJ Harvey stepped to the free-throw line with his team up 64-61 with 1:29 seconds left. Two free throws and the No. 13 Stags would have a little breathing room against Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas). He relaxed, looked at the basket and followed through, only to watch both free throws carom off the rim.
Harvey didn’t hang his head. He just got back on defense and scored his team’s final nine points, all at the line, in a 73-66 win Saturday at the Spalding Hoophall Classic. The Notre Dame signee finished with a game-high 28 points and 14 rebounds to go with four assists.
“I just thought back to what my dad (Darren) tells me, ‘Just breathe before your shot’ and I took my time,” Harvey said. “That did wonders, took all the jitters out and I did a good job from there.”
DeMatha (13-1) survived an aggressive press by the Gaels (12-6), in part because of Harvey, one of a handful of players to start four years at DeMatha, a group that includes Adrian Dantley, Danny Ferry and Keith Bogans, but not current NBA player Victor Oladipo.
“He made his free throws down the end,” DeMatha coach Mike Jones said. “A lot of times, it’s hard after missing two to make the next one. We also had some guys handle the ball a little better.”
Bishop Gorman led 36-35 at the half, thanks in big part to the slashing of Charles O’Bannon Jr., who finished with a team-high 27 points, and Jamal Bey, who had eight of his 17 points in the first half. The Stags took charge in the second half, taking a 57-45 lead after switching to a zone defense, using two posts, 6-10 junior Josh Carlton and 6-11 freshman Hunter Dickinson, underneath. Carlton finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds.
The Gaels got back into it, though, turning on the pressure in the backcourt and forcing the Stags into 17 turnovers for the game. A layup by Ryan Kiley brought Gorman (12-6) to within 57-56, but they couldn’t get any closer once Harvey started making free throws.
“We battled back with our defense and pressure and just fell short at the end,” Gaels coach Grant Rice said. “We’ve had several games like that this season, where we’re so close. We know we are going to be outsized when we play teams at the national level.”
A year ago, Harvey had 13 points and 10 rebounds as DeMatha needed overtime to beat Jayson Tatum-led Chaminade (St. Louis) 72-69. DeMatha trailed by 10 minutes with three minutes left in regulation.
“This is my fourth (Hoophall Classic),” Harvey said. “This is one we circled on our calendar for a long time. You just know the competitiveness is always there. You have to bring it when you come here to make a name for yourself.”