- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 7, 2002

In building the longest winning streak of any men's college team in the country, Catholic University has learned to win when not playing its best basketball.

The Cardinals were hardly in top form last night, when they committed 24 turnovers and got a season-low point total from their top scorer. But instead of allowing visiting Salisbury to craft an upset, Catholic continued its remarkable season with a methodical 75-64 victory at DuFour Center.

The Cardinals (20-1) won their 20th in a row the fifth straight season they've won 20 or more to match a program record for consecutive victories. Catholic, ranked No.1 in two major Division III polls, can clinch its fifth straight Capital Athletic Conference regular-season title by winning at Marymount Saturday.

Will Morley led the Cardinals with 18 points and nine rebounds, and Kevin Wise had 16 points on five 3-pointers, with two big ones coming in the second half to keep the Sea Gulls at bay. Wise's deep 3-pointer with 6:39 to play put Catholic up 12, and the lead remained in double digits from then on.

"Every game, [opponents are] going to come out a lot harder, but we have to expect that," Morley said. "But I think tonight was more us hurting ourselves."

Catholic coach Mike Lonergan was unhappy with several things in the victory, mainly the turnovers and his team's defense, which allowed Salisbury to shoot 47.5 percent. Lonergan conceded that he might have been taking it too easy on his players. Normally, he gives them the day off after a game, but he said they'll practice today.

"I don't think we played well, and you want to be sharp this time of year," Lonergan said. "We are going to get back in the gym, and we have to get focused."

Catholic looked vulnerable at times, especially with certain all-conference center and captain Matt Hilleary playing just 16 minutes and scoring seven points because of foul problems.

Salisbury (7-14, 3-8 CAC), which won at Catholic last season and started five seniors, didn't yield easily despite playing a good chunk of the game without its top scorer, Doug King, because of foul problems. After getting whistled for his third foul late in the first half, King (18.5 average) was hit with a technical (also a personal foul) and didn't return until less than 10 minutes remained in the game.

Maybe Catholic's best stretch of the game came in the last 11 minutes of the first half when it played without Hilleary, its best player. When he picked up his second foul on a suspect offensive foul call with 11:15 left in the first half, the Cardinals trailed 13-11. No matter; they outscored Salisbury 9-0 in the next two minutes and by 14 the rest of the half to take a 42-30 lead at the break.

Morley and sixth man Blair Mills filled Hilleary's void, combining for 25 points in solid minutes, though Morley missed a handful of layups.

Salisbury used a 7-0 spurt to cut a 13-point lead to six at the 13:59 mark and looked poised to make a run at Catholic's unbeaten streak, especially when Hilleary received his fourth foul with 9:04 to go. But freshman point guard Bobby Henning (11 points, six assists) drained a huge 3-pointer to make it 59-50, and Wise hit another one possession later to give the Cardinals breathing room.

"We're pretty good at taking it one game at a time," Wise said. "We don't think about being No. 1 too much."

Notes Catholic hosted top prep target Shane Sowden, a 6-7 center from St. Elizabeth's in Delaware, for last night's game. … Catholic actually won 23 straight Division III games just two seasons ago, but during that string the Cardinals lost to Division I Princeton.


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