Wheeler Leads CUA over St. Mary's
Senior center set two career highs
ST. MARY'S CITY, Md. - Stephen Wheeler (Silver Spring, Md./Good Counsel) had a standout performance Thursday night against the St. Mary's Seahawks (9-8, 4-5 Capital Athletic Conference) to get The Catholic University of America men's basketball (13-4, 5-4 CAC) squad the 75-73 victory. The game was a momentum change for the Cards who broke their two-game losing streak and moved ahead of the Seahawks in conference as both teams had been tied for third.
The Seahawks owned the first half as the home team scored first and maintained the lead throughout. With six minutes to go SMC was up by as much as 12 looking as though the Cards may have a third loss on their hands. However, a six-point run over the next three minutes got the deficit back down to single digits and CUA went into halftime down 39-32. The Cards should not have been concerned about the small halftime deficit since this is the fifth time this season they have been down at the half, but they have only lost one of those contests.
Senior Patrick Dwyer (Williamsburg, Va./Walsingham Academy) came off of a tough game at Mary Washington to lead CUA in the first half. He had 11 points and five rebounds as well a 3-4 performance at the free throw line. Scott Fumai (Rockville, Md./Good Counsel) and Wheeler each had seven and the center added nine rebounds. The Cards were dominant in the post pulling down 21 caroms to SMC's 12.
The Cards came out of the locker room and went to work right away. In the first few minutes Wheeler had a steal and six points to pull CUA within one. The Cards took the lead and went up by a much as six but the Seahawks came flying and stole it back on a jumper by Calvin Wise. At 4:24 St. Mary's was up by one but Mike Wasilenko (Washington Township, N.J./Don Bosco Prep) hit a free throw to mark the fifth tie in the game. Wheeler made a layup and the Seahawks were forced to foul to get the ball back.
Nick Olivero (Fairfax, Va./W.T. Woodson) hit two free throws to put CUA up by four with 1:22 to go but the Seahawks wouldn't concede the game as Wise hit a jumper and Tyson Lesesne pulled down a defensive rebound just to go to the other end of the court and score making the score tied with 31 second remaining. On the final play of the game the ball went to Dwyer who took a shot but was blocked by Wise the ball ricocheted into Wheelers hand and he tipped it in to win the game giving CUA the 75-73 win.
Wheeler had a huge second half down low with 21 points and eight rebounds to finish with career highs in points (28) and rebounds (17). Dwyer added 16 points and seven rebounds while Fumai rounded out the double digits with 12 points and four rebounds. The Cards shot 51 percent for the game and had 36 rebounds to St. Mary's 25. Lesene led SMC with 24 points.
The Cards will finish up their three-game road trip with a game at Goucher on Saturday. The tip is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.