PIKE CREEK — Saint Mark’s took advantage of turnovers and an ability to score in spurts to post an 80-73 victory over Dickinson on Dec. 5 in the boys’ basketball opener for both teams.
The Rams opened with a 5-0 lead before the Spartans got on the board nearly three minutes in on a pair of Chase Wright free throws. That was the beginning of an 11-0 run for Saint Mark’s, with Wright scoring the first seven of those. The next Spartans bucket was a layup for sophomore Alassan N’Diaye, who didn’t start but would have a huge impact on the outcome.
Dickinson cut the lead to 15-12 on a field goal by Zha’mere Crawford to open the second, but Saint Mark’s kept the advantage for the next few minutes. That changed, however, when Kenneth Defran scored six straight, the last four coming after successive steals on his part, giving the Rams a 22-21 lead and prompting a Spartans timeout with 5:22 left in the half.
N’Diaye hit a three-pointer to put the Spartans back on top, part of a 9-2 run for the visitors, who got a lot of points on second and third chances and also after forcing their opponents into turnovers. Dickinson fought back again, tying the game at 32 on a three-pointer by Kyion Chase. Christian Taylor, however, answered with an old-fashioned three-point play with 40 seconds left in the half, and Maxwell Batten banked in a fourth-chance shot for a five-point advantage at the break.
They continued to add to the lead in the third quarter, with Batten hitting a triple and Wright stealing the ball and scoring on a Eurostep to extend the Saint Mark’s run to 10-0. N’Diaye had 10 points in the third, including a pair of hoop-and-harm plays, helping to offset the offense of Crawford and giving the Spartans a 60-48 lead heading into the final quarter.
AyoMosiah Odumosu scored the Spartans’ first eight points of the fourth, with the last two giving Saint Mark’s a 68-54 lead, tied for its biggest of the afternoon. But the Rams refused to go quietly.
Four Dickinson free throws, plus a three-pointer by Defran, cut the Saint Mark’s lead to 68-61. A Spartans turnover gave the Rams a chance to get even closer, but the Saint Mark’s defense got the ball back on a steal, and N’Diaye took it to the hoop at the other end to stifle the Rams’ run.
N’Diaye and Wright each scored as the lead got back to 13, but Dickinson replied with the next eight points. Crawford scored six of them, including the final two while falling down, and the Saint Mark’s lead was 74-69 with about a minute and a half to go.
The Spartans made six of 10 free throws in the final 83 seconds to seal the win.
N’Diaye had 29 points and 10 rebounds off the bench to lead Saint Mark’s. Wright had 17, and Odumosu added 10. The Spartans (1-0) host A.I. DuPont on Thursday at 7:15 p.m.
No statistics were available for Dickinson. The Rams fell to 0-1 and host Newark on Friday at 4 p.m. in the opening game of the Dickinson Winter Classic.