ST. FRANCES 57, POLY 53 An Ace up their sleeve
Baldwin closes out No. 1 Poly with a big 4th quarter Terps have proven ability to respond
Heading into Saturday’s boys basketball showdown against No. 1 Poly, St. Frances called it just one of a number big games in its demanding 35-game regular-season schedule.
But after the No. 3 Panthers had earned a 57-53 win at the William Wells Classic — in front of an overflow crowd at Morgan State’s Hill Field House — senior point guard and fourth-quarter savior Adrian “Ace” Baldwin finally made an admission when asked if it was more than just another game.
Smiling, he simply said: “Yeah, it was.” With a hassling zone defense, the Panthers slowed an Engineers offense that had been overwhelming other opponents.
Senior forward Jamal West dominated inside with a 15-point, 11-rebound performance, and Byron Ireland (11 points) and Khyrie Staten (nine points) made big contributions in the first three quarters.
And when the Panthers had a 39-38 lead going into the fourth quarter, Baldwin, the reigning All-Metro Player of the Year, took over by scoring 11 of his 13 points. St. Frances improves to 25-3, while Poly drops to 14-2.
“I was down in the first half, but my teammates and coaches picked me up and told me to keep playing and I’d be good,” said Baldwin, who added eight assists with the last of his five steals coming in the final minute. “I just play my game and do what I have to do to win.”
On the Panthers’ first possession of the fourth quarter, Baldwin made a 3-pointer from the top of the key — his first field goal of the game — and gave a reassuring nod to the bench. It provided a 42-38 advantage that the Panthers would maintain.
Morgan State players celebrate their comeback win over Coppin State on Saturday. Lamar Jackson Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Fla. Today, 3 p.m. TV: ESPN, Chs. 2, 7 Today, 1 p.m. | TV: Chs. 13, 9 Radio: 105.7 FM, 980 AM
St. Frances’ Jamal West waits for an open teammate in Saturday night’s game against Poly at Morgan State.