- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 9, 2002

Catholic University uncharacteristically gave away its season last night.

With the Cardinals down by one point and 10 seconds left, guard Kevin Wise was stripped of the ball in the right corner. With the giveaway, Catholic's chances of repeating as NCAA Division III national champions went away.

In the final 2:20 of a tight game, the Cardinals turned the ball over three times on five possessions, Clark (Mass.) also made 11 of 25 3-pointers to end Catholic's season 75-72 before 2,000 in the Division III Sweet 16 at DuFour Center.

Matt Hilleary, Catholic's 6-foot-6 center, posted a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Forward Will Morley contributed 20 points and seven rebounds in the losing cause.

Clark (23-5) will play Elizabethtown (Pa.) for the sectional championship in the Elite Eight tonight at 7 at DuFour. The winner advances to the NCAA Division III Final Four next weekend in Salem, Va. Catholic ended its season 26-3.

"That's what they do and they did it well," Catholic coach Mike Lonergan said of Clark's 3-point shooting. "We wanted to guard the 3-point line in the first half, but we didn't match up in transition. You can't miss free throws and turn the ball over either."

The Cardinals also hurt themselves at the free throw line, where they were 12 of 21 (57 percent).

The Cardinals survived a long-distance Clark shooting barrage in the first half. The Cougars sank seven of 16 3-pointers (43.8 percent) in the half, and Catholic was lucky to be down just 36-33 at halftime.

Before the game, Lonergan was concerned and rightfully so about Clark's outside weapons. Trevor Walker, Clark's most dangerous shooter, made two of three 3-pointers in the first half, Sean Fleming two of four and Dave McNamara two of five 3-pointers for the Cougars. For the game, McNamara knocked down five of 10 3-pointers.

"That's our game," said Walker, who finished with 17 points. "We knock down those shots and force teams to come out and guard us. Then we drive and dump."

Cougars junior center Chris Bagdis was the recipient of Clark's dumps, especially in the second half. He scored 11 points in the half and finished with a double-double (14 points and 10 rebounds).

This game was a rematch of last season's Elite Eight game, when Walker came off the bench and stroked nine 3-pointers in Clark's 82-72 loss to the Cardinals.

Because the Cougars were content just on shooting 3-pointers in the first half, the Cardinals could not get the long rebounds. The smaller Cougars crushed Catholic 48-35 on the glass with 19 offensive rebounds.

Clark opened up a 24-16 lead with 8:25 left in the half. With Catholic leading 16-15, the Cougars hit three consecutive 3-pointers in a span of 1:33 to take the eight-point lead.

Hilleary was virtually unstoppable nearly every time he touched the ball in the first half, scoring a team-high 10 points and pulling down five rebounds.

Hilleary, the Capital Athletic Conference Player of the Year, made five of eight shots from the floor in the first half.

It took a last-second 3-pointer for Elizabethtown (27-2) to advance to tonight's championship game. With his team trailing Cabrini (Pa.) 85-84, Blue Jays forward Bob Porambo nailed a 3-pointer from left the corner with four seconds left.

Porambo, who is Elizabethtown's second-leading scorer at 12.7, missed 12 of his first 13 shots, going 1-for-8 in the first half.

Porambo came alive in the second half, making six of nine from the floor, including four of six from behind the 3-point arc.

Cabrini's sloppy ball handling and poor free throw shooting also contributed to its loss. The Cavaliers (19-12) turned the ball over 23 times and made just 14 of 22 free throws.


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