Story by Brayden Leather, Herald-Mail Sports, November 24, 2018
With the shot clock winding down in crunch time, Hagerstown Community College guard Daron Hughey kicked the ball out to Tyrin Hollis for a last second 3-pointer.
It wasn't the play Hawks coach Bernard Hopkins drew up in a timeout, but he didn't seem to mind.
Hollis' 3-pointer gave HCC a two-point lead with 10 seconds to go and last second steal by Jamichael Smart sealed a 79-76 victory over Monroe College (N.Y.) in the Jim Brown Classic on Saturday.
"It was supposed to be a pick-and-roll," Hopkins said. "Sometimes when we're drawing it up, we get lost in what the play is and we do something different. ... but it paid off."
The Hawks (2-3) found themselves trailing by four with 61 seconds remaining before Smart hit a clutch 3-pointer with 51 seconds left to cut the deficit to 75-74.
With HCC needing a stop on defense, forward Malcom Moye came up big with a steal with 44 seconds left to give the Hawks a chance to take the lead.
Hopkins called a timeout with 30 seconds left and 20 remaining on the shot clock. Out of the timeout, Monroe prevented the Hawks from getting any good looks, until Hughey found Hollis in the corner to put the Hawks up 77-75 with 10 seconds to go.
"I did want to try to get a shot up and Tyrin hit it," Hopkins said. "The kid can play and there wasn't a doubt in mind, he can hit some big shots."
After a Monroe timeout, Smart stole the ball and drew a foul with 0.2 seconds left, triggering a celebration on the HCC bench. Following a technical foul free throw from Monroe's Thomas Binelli, Smart knocked down both of his free throws on the other end to close out the 79-76 win.
Smart led the Hawks with 22 points and three steals in 30 minutes off the bench, while Hollis had 15 points, five assists and five steals. Rodney Black added 13 points.
"Jamichael had that big steal at the end and he had been on the road the past two days," Hopkins said. "He got here at 11:30 ... that alone just shows the character of this team."
The win snaps a three game losing streak for HCC, all games which Hopkins felt were winnable.
"There's no game that we've played that we haven't been in," Hopkins said. "(Monroe) has a pretty good team and this is a big win for us.
"I watched a lot of them the past couple days and I thought we could beat them, we just had to withstand their height advantage."
The Hawks fell into an early 10-1 deficit, but fought back with a 15-4 run late in the half to take a 36-23 lead.
HCC held the Mustangs (4-2) to 33 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes and just 1 of 7 from 3-point range.
"We held them to 23 points at halftime and that's an 82-83 points-per-game team," Hopkins said. "That's why it was so important to go up big because I knew they'd go on a run."
Monroe started the second half on a 21-4 run to take a 44-40 lead. Hollis snapped the spree with a 3-pointer and it remained close the rest of the way.
Monroe had a 75-71 lead with 1:01 left. But it was all HCC in the final minute to pull out the victory.
"They're a very good team and to go to the national tournament, you have to go through them since they're in our district," Hopkins said.
The Hawks return for day two of the Jim Brown Classic to face County College of Morris (N.J.) at 3 p.m. and Hopkins hopes to see the same drive the Hawks demonstrated on Saturday.
"It feels good knowing that the guys could see that we can win a close game," Hopkins said. "No one's been beating us, we've been beating ourselves. It was good, the guys just kept fighting."