The 14-1 Eagles played from behind much of the game and took their first lead of the second half at 53-52 on Washington’s 3-pointer with 3:19 left. But Pace closed the game with a 10-2 run.
Pace’s best player, Kyle Greene Jr., scored six straight points to start the run. He drove for two layups and made two free throws. Greene finished with 25 points.
“We’ve got guys who’ve done the job defensively all year trying to keep them out of the paint, and they had a tough time because he’s really good player,” Szabo said.
Washington and brother B.B. Washington, a junior, provided most of the Eagles’ offense. George scored 26 points (two above his average) against a long and quick defense dedicated to stopping him. But his fadeaway jumpers and three 3-pointers kept the Eagles close as he created space for himself to shoot.
“I didn’t teach him that,” Szabo said. “He was like that before he got here. He’s just really so savvy and he’s played so much basketball and is so good about knowing how to get to his spots on the floor and how to attack defenses. And they were prepared and their length bothered him tonight.”
B.B. scored a season-high 21 and made 5-of-10 3-pointers. He entered the game shooting 45.6% from 3-point range and averaging 11.2 points.
“He got 10 shots and I thought he got eight or nine really good ones and hit five,” Szabo said. “That’s what he does for us. He’s a kid that can get hot and can really stretch a defense.”
The Eagles have stretched themselves with a difficult schedule to prepare for the Division II tournament. They have wins over Division I Garfield Heights and Wayne. They go to Beavercreek on Tuesday and face Alter on Jan. 27 at Centerville.
“You want to win every game, but that loss does not affect any of our goals for the year,” Szabo said. “We’ve had so much success it’s been hard to find things you don’t do well. I think with this group this is going to be a positive.”