Catholic (27-5) vs. William Paterson (26-4)
Showdown in Salem: Catholic University (27-5) plays William Paterson University (26-4) for the NCAA 2001 Division III men's basketball national championship. Both teams are looking for their first national title.
Streaks: The Cardinals have won 15 in a row and 18 of their past 19; the Pioneers have captured eight straight and 20 of their past 21.
Series History: Tied 1-1. The teams have met in the Sweet 16 each of the past two years at Paterson's Recreation Center in Wayne, N.J. The Pioneers prevailed in 1999, 79-71. CUA won last season 57-52 to advance to its first Elite Eight. Tim Judge paced the Cardinals' victory with a career-playoff-high 18 points on six 3-pointers.
National Rankings: CUA is ranked 14th by D3hoops.com; William Paterson 11th.
Television: Tonight's game is being carried live on Fox Sports South. Dave Weekley will provide the play-by-play and Stan Lewter color.
Radio: Tonight's game is being broadcast live on D3hoops.com. Pat Coleman will handle play-by-play and Rick Seidel color.
Sweet Four You: With their 69-67 victory at Widener University in Chester, Pa., on March 3, the Cardinals became the only team in the nation to advance to the last four NCAA Sweet 16s. CUA entered the season as the only school to accomplish the feat the past three years.
Highway to Heaven: The Cardinals' Northeast Sectional championship win at Clark on March 10 was their fifth straight NCAA playoff victory on the road. Their conquests include wins at Lebanon Valley and Goucher in 1999, at William Paterson last year and at Widener this season.
Record Breakers: The Cardinals have won a school-record 27 games this season and have already played more games than any previous CUA basketball team. The Cards earned their first win over a Division I team since 1981 when they defeated Albany (N.Y.) 59-56 in the consolation game of the Mohegan Sun Classic in New Britain, Conn., on Nov. 18. CUA won three tournaments: the CUA Pepsi Classic, the D3hoops.com Classic and the CAC Tournament.
Cardinals vs. the Top Five: The Cardinals are 4-1 all-time against teams ranked in the top five nationally: defeated No. 3 Ohio Northern 82-77 on March 16, 2001; defeated No. 5 William Paterson 57-52 on March 10, 2000; defeated No. 1 Rowan 92-88 on Jan. 15, 1996; lost to No. 1 Kentucky Wesleyan 91-46 on Dec. 19, 1966; and defeated No. 3 Evansville 73-71 on Dec. 17, 1966. Coach Mike Lonergan is 3-0 against top-five teams.
Big D: CUA is ranked ninth in the nation in field goal percentage defense (38.7).
He's Kind of Tied Up: Cardinal Head Coach Mike Lonergan, named Capital Athletic Conference Coach of the Year three times in his nine years at CUA, tied Fred Rice (1911-30) for most victories in school history with his team's win over Ohio Northern. Lonergan has a career record of 176-74 for the highest winning percentage (.704) in the school's 90 seasons.
Lonergan in the Big Dance: Coach Mike Lonergan's NCAA Tournament record is 10-5. He is the only coach in CUA basketball history to win in the NCAA playoffs. His father, Jack, helped Holy Cross' baseball team win the NCAA title in 1952. Here's how Mike's done in the playoffs:
Home: 3-1 | Away: 5-2 | Neutral: 2-2
Tournament Time: The Cardinals are making their fourth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament and eighth overall (1944, 1964, 1993, 1996 the others). For a complete history of the CUA's previous playoff history, see page 23 of the Cardinals 2000-01 Media Guide.
On the Matt: In his last 10 games, sophomore center Matt Hilleary has made 58 of 85 shots (68.2 %) and 20 of 25 free throws (80.0 %), while blocking 2.7 shots per game. He has posted three straight double-doubles, including a 15-point, 12-rebound performance against Ohio Northern on Friday. He's averaging 14.8 points and 9.2 rebounds in the NCAA Tournament.
Free Will: Freshman forward Will Morley leads the CAC in free-throw percentage (83.9). He has succeeded on 99 of 118. His best performance was a 9-for-9 effort at Marymount on Jan. 20. In the Cards' 82-78 playoff win at Clark, he made all six of his foul shots, including two with 12.4 seconds remaining to give CUA a six-point lead.
More of Morley: Will Morley hit the game-winning shot in the CAC championship to give the Cardinals a 61-59 victory over Marymount on Feb. 24. In the Ohio Northern victory, he scored all 14 of his points in the second half. He is third on the team in scoring (10.8 ppg) and rebounding (4.4 rpg), and second in shooting percentage (51.1 %). Morley's turned it up in the playoffs, averaging 14.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, and making 56.5 % (26 of 46) of his shots.
Wise Guys: Reserve sophomore guard Kevin Wise played a key role in the Cardinals' 82-78 victory at Clark last week. First he nailed a 3-pointer from the right baseline to give CUA a 69-65 lead with 2:39 remaining. He clinched the win by hitting 1 of 2 free throws with seven seconds left for the final margin. Classmate Craig Avallone has only made seven treys all year, but his last two were huge. He hit a 28-footer just before the shot clock expired in the second half of the Clark win, and made one Friday to tie the game at 47 with 13:24 remaining. Freshman Blair Mills equaled his 3-point season total Friday with one to give the Cards a brief 50-49 lead.
82 or 69: The Cardinals have scored either 82 or 69 points in their five NCAA Tournament games this season. This meant nothing until Friday when CUA tallied 82 points again. My psychic hotline counselor keeps telling me I should believe in numerology. Maybe she's right. At $4.99 a minute, it's worth finding out.