Cardinals to face Ohio Northern in Final Four
Friday's Game: Catholic University (26-5) faces Ohio Northern in the national semifinals. William Paterson (24-4) faces Illinois Wesleyan (23-6) in the other semifinal. The winners meet for the championship at 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 17.
Streaks: The Cardinals have won 14 in a row; Ohio Northern 18 straight.
Series History: This is the first meeting between the schools.
National Rankings: CUA is ranked 14th by D3hoops.com; Ohio Northern is third; William Paterson 11th and Illinois Wesleyan 17th.
Radio: Tonight's game is being broadcast live on D3hoops.com. Pat Coleman will handle play-by-play and Rick Seidel color.
Shhh: If you refer to the 2001 Men's Division III Basketball Championship as the "Final Four," please make sure no one from the NCAA sees it or hears it. The NCAA's official Final Four refers only to the men's and women's Division I tournaments. But guess what, the NCAA doesn't even own the term "Final Four." It is using it by permission of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association. Enough of this rambling, please enjoy this weekend's Final Four.
Sweet Four You: With their 69-67 victory at Widener 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 consecutive 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 26 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 3-1 all-time against teams ranked in the top five nationally: 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 2-0 against top-five teams.
Four & Oh: See the releases for highlights of CUA's four NCAA tournament wins this season.
Throwing Rice: Cardinal Head Coach Mike Lonergan, named Capital Athletic Conference Coach of the Year three times in his nine years at CUA, has a career record of 175-74 (.703). He has the highest winning percentage in school history and is second all-time in victories. He needs one win to tie Fred Rice, who posted a record of 176-137 (.562) from 1911-30.
Lonergan in the Big Dance: Coach Mike Lonergan's NCAA Tournament record is 9-5. He is the only coach in CUA basketball history to win in the NCAA playoffs. Here's how Mike's done in the playoffs:
Home: 3-1 | Away: 5-2 | Neutral: 1-2
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 CUA's previous playoff history, see page 23 of the Cardinals 2000-01 Media Guide.
Marksman: In his last nine games, sophomore center Matt Hilleary has made 53 of 78 shots (67.9 %) and 15 of 19 free throws (78.9 %), while blocking 2.8 shots per game. He recorded double-doubles in both Northeast Sectional Tournament games with 12 points and a personal-high 13 rebounds vs. Brockport State, and 12 points and 12 boards at Clark. He's averaging 14.8 points and 7.8 rebounds in the NCAA Tournament. CUA's most accurate shooter (53.0 %), Hilleary blocked a career-high six shots against York (Pa.) in the CAC Tournament on Feb. 22. His 2.4 blocks per game average leads the CAC.
More and Morley: Freshman forward Will Morley hit the game-winning shot in the CAC championship to give the Cardinals a 61-59 victory over Marymount on Feb. 24. He is third on the team in scoring (10.6 ppg) and rebounding (4.4 rpg), and second in shooting percentage (51.1 %). Unofficially, he leads CUA in charges taken. He took a big one with 2:25 left in the Cards' 69-67 victory at Widener on March 3. His basket 28 seconds later put the Cardinals on top, 68-65. In the playoffs, he's averaging 14.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and has made 59.5 % (22 of 37) of his shots and 92.9 % of his free throws. His uncle, Dutch Morley, played point guard at Maryland from 1978-82.
Free Will: Will Morley leads the CAC in free-throw percentage (85.3). He has succeeded on 93 of 109. 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.
Wise Guy: 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. Wise, who overcame two collapsed lungs the spring of his junior year in high school, is third on the team in 3-pointers (27 of 70, 38.6 %) and has hit 20 of 24 free throws (83.3 %). He averages 4.7 points in 10.7 minutes of action per game.
82 or 69: The Cardinals have scored either 82 or 69 points in their four NCAA Tournament games this season. This means nothing, but I ran out of good notes and still had this space to fill.