- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 8, 2003

Catholic University's Cardinals hope to use the lessons of the past to help them advance in this season's NCAA Division III tournament.
Many Cardinals remember winning the national championship two years ago. But the memory that lingers even more right now is what when wrong last week when they lost the Capital Athletic Conference championship game on their own court.
"It hurt to see Mary Washington cut down our nets in our gym," Catholic guard Craig Avallone said of the 70-68 loss. "I think it was definitely a wakeup call. It's not the worst thing. We got back into the [NCAA] tournament, which had been our goal all season. Now our goal is to get back to Salem [Va., site of the Division III final four]."
The 10th-ranked Cardinals begin that quest tonight when they play host to Montclair (N.J.) State. Catholic (24-4) received a first-round bye in the 48-team field, and Montclair State (22-5) defeated Elizabethtown (Pa.) 74-69 on Thursday.
The Cardinals will be shooting for a fifth straight Sweet 16 appearance while trying to get past last Saturday's bitter defeat.
"I couldn't sleep that night," said center Matt Hilleary, the CAC player of the year. "Losses do that to you. Another thing losses do is make you want to work harder. I think that did a lot for us this week. I don't think there is anything that can be more motivating than a loss like that in front of the home crowd."
Hilleary missed a potential game-tying short jumper in the final seconds as Catholic proved unable to overcome 18 turnovers. Hilleary is key to the Cardinals making a deep run in the tournament. The 6-foot-7 senior from Manassas is averaging 17.4 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.5 blocks.
"We need to get Matt Hilleary the ball," said coach Mike Lonergan, in his 11th season at his alma mater. "For us to win, he has to put up some big numbers. Two years ago, Pat Maloney's play really helped us to get to Salem. I think Matt is capable of doing that."
Hilleary is joined on the frontline by 6-5 power forward Will Morley (Good Counsel High School), an all-conference selection averaging 15.8 points. The Cardinals will look for an outside boost from guard Kevin Wise (37 percent on 3-pointers) and Avallone, who averages 11.2 points.
Catholic is in the NCAA tournament for a sixth consecutive season, and the players believe that experience gives them an invaluable advantage.
"We know what it takes to win," said Avallone, one of three senior starters along with Wise and Hilleary. "I'm not really worried about the other team. If we play our game, we'll be fine."

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