Victor Oladipo, DeMatha Stags rally to upset No. 1 Gonzaga Eagles
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Victor Oladipo provides plenty of highlight-reel dunks for second-ranked DeMatha. But on a team loaded with offensive firepower, he usually focuses more on other aspects of the game -- such as rebounding, blocking shots and playing defense -- than trying to be a prolific scorer.
But with the Stags in an unusual predicament Monday night -- blowing a big lead and then trailing in the second half with star guard Quinn Cook on the bench in foul trouble -- Oladipo helped fill the void created by Cook's absence.
The Indiana-bound Oladipo scored eight of his career-high 26 points in the fourth quarter as DeMatha rallied for a 73-69 victory over top-ranked Gonzaga to wrap up the top seed in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference playoffs before 1,500 at Trinity University.
"When my team needs me to score, I can score the basketball," said Oladipo, a 6-foot-4 senior forward who previously had scored 20 points just once in his high school career. "Just because I don't usually score a lot of points doesn't mean I can't score."
Oladipo and the Stags (25-3, 16-1) were phenomenal early. He had a pair of dunks in the first quarter to help his team build a shocking 17-point lead.
"If he can get it within a step of the rim, that's what you're going to get," DeMatha Coach Mike Jones said. "You're going to get a lot of dunks and you're going to get finishes."
Gonzaga guard Cedrick Lindsay, however, fueled the Eagles' comeback. He had 10 of his 26 points in the second quarter and his three-point play late in the third tied it at 49. Another three-point play by Lindsay and Nate Britt's two free throws put the Eagles (21-5, 12-3) in front, 56-51, after three quarters.
At that point, things looked dire for DeMatha. Cook was sitting on the bench after being assessed his fourth foul, though Jones insisted Cook really had three fouls but was improperly given another foul. Lindsay started the fourth quarter by passing to Tyler Thornton for one basket and then cutting to the lane and taking a pass for another score. All of a sudden, Gonzaga had its biggest lead at 60-53.
DeMatha, though, battled back as Oladipo dunked, scored in transition and then made a runner in the lane. When Cook returned midway through the period, he tied it at 63 with a turnaround jumper, went the length of the court for a layup and made four free throws in the final minute.
"I have a lot of confidence in my team," said Cook, who finished with 22 points. "Victor carried the team today."
Close shave: It was the seventh time in the teams' past nine meetings that the game was decided by five points or less. Nothing is free: After DeMatha went 9 for 23 from the line in a 67-65 overtime loss to Gonzaga 3 1/2 weeks ago, Coach Mike Jones instructed his players to shoot 40 free throws apiece after school Monday, though one player said it felt like 60.