Cardinals Upset No. 1 Rowan
Briggs' Free Throws Keep Profs
at Bay, Douglas Slam Ices Win
By Brian Gregorich and Pat Coleman,
Cardinal Basketball Digest Staff
On Jan. 15, 1996, the Cardinals pulled off a major upset by defeating top-ranked and eventual NCAA champion Rowan College 92-88 in front of 1,200 enthusiastic fans at the DuFour Center. The game was a nip-and-tuck contest from the outset with neither team able to take more than a seven-point lead. In the end, it was a series of free throws by Catholic's junior guards Sammy Briggs and Pat Buckley that iced the game and a last-second dunk by John Douglas that sent Cardinal fans pouring onto the DuFour Center floor in jubilation.
Catholic fell behind early, 7-2, but stayed in the game thanks to center Jason Alexander, who scored six consecutive points to tie the game at 25 with 8:38 left. The Cardinals (8-5) held the Profs to one basket in six minutes but only led by six points, 34-28.
Entering the second half, the game was tied at 39-39 despite the fact that Buckley was scoreless and Catholic received little first-half contribution from Douglas, hobbled by a sore ankle which kept him out of Saturday's game.
After halftime, Buckley countered a Rowan run by firing off three long-range three-point baskets. You don't realize [how far out you are], said Buckley, who sunk the third one from about 24 feet away before missing one from 26. "They always say to shoot against the zone in practice. That's what I've got to do."
Rowan's Antwan Dasher and Roscoe Harris tried to keep the Profs (11-2) from the upset, but received little offensive help in the second half. Dasher finished with 25 points and eight assists while Harris scored 21.
Catholic's offense struggled at times, but made the momentum-breaking shots that were necessary to offset Rowan's talented squad. Catholic faced a variety of defenses and countered with a diverse offense. In the first half, the pick-and-roll was effective with Briggs and Russell Sullivan teaming up.
Twice, with time running out on the shot clock, Catholic turned to freshman Donnie Scott. Scott held the ball at the top of the key and drove on the bigger, yet slower Demetrius Poles. Neither possession netted a basket, but Mike Lonergan's confidence in Scott has increased noticeably in the past few games. Scott is unafraid to shoot the ball, launching 27 shots resulting in 16 points. He averaged eight points per game in the past week.
In the middle, Catholic received big contributions from Alexander and Sullivan. Alexander finished with seven points and had a key block of a Rowan layup. Sullivan also scored nine points in only 12 minutes of action for Catholic.
Sullivan, who has had bad luck in watching shots rim out this season (33% from the floor), made all three of his shots. "I was kind of pumped up a little extra because it was the No. 1 team in the nation. After my first shot fell I got more confidence. Pat [Buckley] put me in a good situation after a post move, giving me the ball with only one person on me."
Conefry saw more time because of Douglas's injury, tallying 14 points. Briggs finished with 19 points and seven assists while shooting 8-for-8 from the line. Douglas scored 12 points in 19 minutes, surpassing the 1,500 point mark.