- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 24, 2002

With Craig Avallone posting a double-double, Catholic University held off Marymount University 64-56 to claim the Capital Athletic Conference championship yesterday at DuFour Center.
For the Cardinals (25-2), the Division III national champions last season, it was their second CAC championship in a row and their fourth overall, all forged under coach Mike Lonergan.
Avallone, a 6-foot-2 guard from Lincroft, N.J., finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds and scored the biggest basket of the game, a layup with 26 seconds left following a timeout and a play devised by Lonergan.
After Avallone's layup, Matt Hilleary blocked a shot by Dallas Crawley, and the loose ball was picked up by Bobby Henning, who was fouled.
Henning hit both free throw attempts to give the Cardinals a 62-56 lead with 16 seconds left. It was then that the feel-good moment for the Cardinals was interrupted by the ugly shenanigans of a few in the bleachers.
After some of Catholic's fans elected to play catch in the stands with the head of Marymount's bulldog mascot, various parties exchanged angry words and assumed fighting positions. Order was restored only after campus police and one highly active priest, the Rev. Robert Schlageter, provided strong arms and removed the culprits.
"It's a good thing Father Bob has been working out on the Stairmaster," Lonergan said. "The reaction of some of their fans doesn't surprise me. I told our players after the game that, win or lose, I'm proud that they always conduct themselves with class. I thought the incident was ridiculous and an embarrassment to the conference."
Behind Carson Robinson's 18 game-high points, the Saints (19-9) put a scare into the Cardinals after trailing by 16 points early in the second half.
"Even with the lead, we knew they would make a run at us," Avallone said. "They came at us hard, but I think we kept our composure."
A 3-pointer by Robinson came at the end of a 22-8 run by the Saints and allowed the visitors to tie the game 44-44 with 8:48 left. Crawley tied it again at 50 before the Cardinals took the lead for good on two free throws by Will Morley with 6:28 left.
"We couldn't score there in the second half because of turnovers and missed 3-pointers," Lonergan said.
The Cardinals unnerved the Saints early, taking their first lead of the game at 13-12 on a 3-pointer by Kevin Wise with 15:04 left in the first half. The Saints struggled to put anything together on offense, scoring only 10 points after going up 12-10 on a baseline jumper by Carlton Phelps with 15:16 left in the half.
No matter what Saints coach Chuck Driesell tried timeouts, substitutions, perhaps even prayer nothing could bring the team out of its early funk.
The Cardinals went on a 12-0 run, capped by Morley's putback, to take a 30-15 lead with 9:10 left in the half. The red-clad throng reached a frenzy after Hilleary, in transition, dunked the ball at the 3:32 mark to put the Cardinals up 34-18, the team's largest lead in the first 20 minutes.
The Saints' funk must have been contagious. The Cardinals caught it in the second half.


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