Cardinals rally to beat Widener,
reach fourth consecutive Sweet 16
CHESTER, Pa. - Catholic University placed four of its five starters in double figures to lead the Cardinals to a 69-67 victory over Widener in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at the Schwartz Athletic Center. With the victory, Catholic advances to the Sweet 16 against Brockport State at a site to be determined (likely Clark University in Worcester, Mass.).
Widener, which led by as many as 14 points in the first half, was led by Frank DeLuca who scored 21 of his game-high 27 points in the opening 20 minutes of play. He went 6-for-8 from the field, including 4-for-5 from long range, and also hit 5-of-6 free throw attempts. Chaz Williamson, who also finished in double figures with 14 points, chipped in with 10 in the first half. Mike Siuchta scored all 10 of his points during the second half.
Catholic (24-5) was led by Matt Hilleary's 15 points in only 12 minutes of action. Will Morley had 14 points, including 10 in the first half, Pat Maloney 13 and Tim Judge added 11.
Catholic jumped out to a 10-5 lead within the first five minutes of the game but Widener was quick to come back to take a 13-10 lead as Chris Hightower hit a layup and converted the three-point play by making the bonus free throw. Widener (21-6) built up a 35-22 lead with 4:24 left in the first half as DeLuca hit 3-of-4 from the foul line following a series of four technical fouls, three being issued against Catholic and one against Widener.
Widener extended it to 38-24 but Catholic chipped with a pair of free throws, a Tim Judge three-pointer, two foul shots by sophomore Brian Meyer and a Kevin Wise three-pointer to cut the lead to 43-34. After DeLuca turned the ball over with 11 seconds left, Maloney found senior Mike Hartman for an easy layup at the buzzer to cut the deficit to 43-36 at the break.
Trailing by a point, Catholic managed to tie the game at 63 with 3:59 remaining in the game as Hilleary hit the front end of one-and-one foul shot. Hightower hit two free throws a minute later to give Widener back a two point lead but Judge hit his third triple of the game to give Catholic its first lead since the opening minutes at 66-65.
"Pat (Maloney) called my play," said Judge, "and they kind of knew, every time we called it, what we were doing, so I took the long way and came off two screens and I was open and made the shot."
"I thought we were right where we wanted to be, but we couldn't get that lead," said Catholic head coach Mike Lonergan. "It seemed like we were down one forever, then Judge stepped up and hit that big three and Kevin Wise gave us some big baskets."
With 1:40 left Williamson pulled Widener to within a point, 68-67, as he hit a foul line jumper. Maloney hit one-of-two free throw attempts with 1:11 left as Siuchta was called for the blocking foul, giving Catholic the lead at 69-67.
The Pioneers was able to maintain possession during the final 71 seconds but were unable to get two potential game-tying shots and a game-winner to drop in. DeLuca's three in the corner as time expired hit the side of the backboard. Catholic missed two defensive rebound opportunities when Rice traveled and Mike Hartman stepped on the end line.
Lonergan credited his bench, which played 84 minutes and scored 13 points compared to 21 minutes and five points for Widener. "I think we win almost every game because most (teams) can only play six or seven guys, or do only play six or seven guys. We play 12."