TOWSON, Md. — Up seven points with under three minutes remaining, this was certainly looking as though it would be the day Goucher finally beat Scranton.
To beat the Royals for the first time in the 17th meeting between the two teams since the formation of the Landmark Conference, the Gophers just couldn't go 0-for-2 from the field the rest of the way, just couldn't miss the front end of three 1-and-1's at the free-throw line and just couldn't commit a shot-clock violation once their lead was sliced to one point.
But they did all of those things. Following the turnover, Scranton's Brendan Boken made two free throws with 3.3 seconds showing on the clock that put his team ahead for the first time since a 16-15 advantage in the first half. When Goucher's 3-point heave at the buzzer wouldn't drop, the Royals were able to celebrate their 78-77 victory.
Boken, who finished with game-high totals of 31 points and 15 rebounds, had a hand in all eight points Scranton scored during its game-clinching run. In between his two free throws that reduced the home team's lead to 77-72 and the dunk by John Vitkus that he assisted, two different Goucher players went to the foul line to shoot the 1-and-1 and missed the first try.
Following yet another miss on the front end of a 1-and-1 by the Gophers, Boken knocked down a jumper in the lane with 44 seconds left to play to bring the Royals (11-3, 4-2 Landmark) within a point of the lead at 77-76.
Mychal Stefanides (Bel Air, Md./C. Milton Wright) was the only Goucher player who managed to score any points during the first three minutes of the contest. Fortunately he connected on two 3-point attempts and was fouled on a third. The freshman guard's three made free throws put the Gophers in front 9-7.
Stefanides made another 3-pointer with 4:26 left to play in the first half that provided Goucher with its biggest lead of the period at 36-27, but Scranton would close to within 40-36 by halftime.
After making only one 3-point basket in the first 20 minutes of play, Goucher's Kevin Miles (District Heights, Md./Gwynn Park) went off in the second half, nailing shots from long distance on three of the team's first five possessions. The senior guard hit two more just :20 apart later in the period; the second one bumped the lead into double-digit territory for the first time at 62-51.
The Gophers went on to expand their cushion to 13 points (67-54) on a conventional three-point play by Norman Allen II (Bowie, Md./Riverdale Baptist).
Including the 15 points he tallied in the second half, Miles wound up with a team-high total of 24. Stefanides added a career-high 17 points, while Troy DeShields (Seaford, Del./Sussex Technical) and Tucker Canary (Silver Spring, Md./Montgomery Blair) chipped in with 10 apiece. Canary was also credited with 10 assists, giving the senior guard the first double-double of his career.
Goucher wraps up a three-game homestand on Wednesday when it plays host to Moravian in a Landmark Conference contest slated to tip off at 7 p.m. The Gophers will be looking to avenge an 83-74 loss to the Greyhounds back on Dec. 2 in Bethlhem, Pa.