SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- A year ago at this time, in this tournament, on this floor, DeMatha Catholic was getting embarrassed by St. Anthony's on national television, a 50-point loss to New Jersey powerhouse St. Anthony in the Hoophall Classic. Burly big man BeeJay Anye struggled with his weight, and in turn struggled to stay on the floor with his low stamina.
Fast forward 12 months, and the Stags were getting a little bit of retribution tonight, easily downing Northwest Catholic (Conn.), 78-57, behind 24 points, nine rebounds and three steals from the 6-foot-8 junior big man.
"It feels a lot different," said Anye. "We haven't won up here the last two times we've been up here, so getting that monkey off our back feels good. But it's time to move on to Monday [against Bishop Gorman, at Hoophall]."
Anye scored six of the game's first eight baskets to spot the Stags a quick 8-0 lead less than two minutes into the contest. The Stags led 26-9 after one quarter, and 41-21 at the break, largely thanks to his work both underneath and around the perimeter. He had 13 points at the break, and his movement helped them have a 20-12 advantage on the boards (and 39-23 for the game).
Pitt signee Jerami Grant added 14 points, while Marcellous Bell was a perfect 4 of 4 from three-point range to aid the Stags in the win.
"We usually try to get him the ball early to get him going and keep him involved," DeMatha head coach Mike Jones said of Anye. "He's a monster on the defensive end -- he always will be, no matter what -- but when he's able to score for us, it opens up a lot of other things for us."
Meanwhile, Northwest's star junior Kuran Iverson ended up watching most of this blowout on the bench, picking up two fouls in the first quarter and his fourth midway through the third. The 6-foot-10 wing -- who counts offers from Syracuse, UConn, Pitt, North Carolina, St. John's, Oklahoma and Florida, among others -- did minimal damage in this one, with just three rebounds and four points on 2-of-7 from the field in 18 minutes.
"We could have competed, but we didn't," Iverson said. "The foul trouble came, and I was just out of my game from there."
If there was a silver lining for Northwest, it was the emergence of senior guard Zach Lewis, who scored 15 points in the second half to total 23 on the night. Head coach John Mirabello acknowledged that the late-blooming shooting guard's performance tonight could do measures in justifying his affirmation that he's a scholarship player.
"I'm working like crazy, to be honest with you," Mirabello smiled. "I can't speak for a college coach, I know I'm biased, but I think...more people will be coming around now for him. Not that they shouldn't have before -- I don't think he needed this game to prove that -- and he wasn't at his best tonight."