Catholic wins title, tops Paterson
By Chris McManes
SALEM, Va. - Pat Maloney has hit a lot of big shots in his four years at Catholic University. But the last shot of his career was the biggest - by far.
Maloney succeeded on a 28-footer from the right wing to give the Cardinals an eight-point lead with less than two minutes to go in a 76-62 victory against William Paterson to hand CUA the NCAA Division III national championship on Saturday, March 17.
The win gave the school its first team national title in school history, was Maloney and his four senior teammates' 100th career victory, and made Coach Mike Lonergan the winningest coach (177 wins) in CUA's 90-year basketball history.
"What you saw today was the true meaning of a team," Lonergan said. "We might not have the best players in the country, we might not have the best coaches in the country, but our guys have stuck together, especially our senior class. Today was their 100th win in four years.
"To average 25 wins in Division III when you only play 24 (regular season) games is pretty incredible."
The game attracted 3,317 fans to Salem Civic Center and was televised live by Fox Sports South. Illinois Wesleyan (24-7) won the third-place game with a 76-73 triumph against Ohio Northern (27-4).
Andy Rice led the 14th-ranked Cardinals (28-5) with 17 points, five assists and two steals. Maloney, named Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four, had 16 points and a team-high five rebounds. Tim Judge added 12 points and two steals. The senior guard trio accounted for 26 of CUA's final 31 points.
"It's a great accomplishment for our team, especially for our seniors because we've been through a lot," said Rice, part of a class that also includes Mike Hartman and Kurt Zeisler. "We've been here four years and we've played some pretty big games.
"We've lost some tough ones, but we won the most important one."
Horace Jenkins scored a game-high 21 points for No. 11 William Paterson (26-5), which lost in the playoffs to CUA for the second consecutive year. Mufeed Thomas added 10 points and 11 rebounds.
For the fifth straight playoff game, the Cardinals found themselves trailing in the final 10 minutes, this time 48-45 on a Jenkins jumper with 8:59 remaining. Maloney tied it on his second of four three-pointers after halftime, but CUA didn't re-assume the lead for good until Rice nailed a trey to give the Cards a 53-51 lead with 5:44 remaining.
Judge pushed the lead to five a minute later with a steal and layup. The team's top defender stole Thomas' pass on the right sideline just over halfcourt and went hard to the basket, where Thomas fouled him. Judge made his first of five consecutive free throws to convert the three-point play.
"We were in a 1-3-1 (zone defense) and (Thomas) was kind of telegraphing his pass, so I knew where he was going to throw it," Judge said. "I just got a hand on it, got a good lane and went down the sideline. I saw (Thomas) coming; he tried to cut me off but I just went strong to the basket anyway. I laid it up and he fouled me."
Maloney, who made 5 of 8 three-pointers and had three assists, connected from beyond the arc with just under three minutes to go to give CUA a 60-53 advantage. Following Rashaan Barner's layup, Maloney's next trey was the final shot of his brilliant career and almost gift-wrapped the victory.
"Those back-to-back threes by Maloney were huge," Paterson Coach Jose Rebimbas said. "He's a great player. It was kind of déjà vu. Last year he made those same shots."
Maloney got the ball on a pass from Rice right in front of the Cards' bench with the shot clock under five seconds. The ball swished through the net and Lonergan immediately called timeout with the Cardinals on top 63-55 with 1:54 left.
"The shot clock was winding down and I think everyone thought Rice was going to (drive) to the basket," said Maloney, CUA's sixth all-time scoring leader (1,648 points). "But he passed it to me, I got squared and just let it go. Luckily it went in."
The Cardinals then hit 11 consecutive free throws to finish 32 of 42 (76.2 %) from the line. They were 33-for-39 (84.6 %) from the stripe in their 82-77 semifinal win over No. 3 Ohio Northern the night before.
Jenkins, the only Division III player invited to this year's NBA pre-draft camp in Portsmouth, Va., finished just 7 of 25 from the field, including a dismal 1-for-12 from three-point range. The 6-1 senior point guard's only triple came with 23 seconds to go.
"Before the game, I said, ‘We're going to guard Horace Jenkins as a team,' and that's what we did," said Lonergan, the only Division III coach in the nation to lead his club to the past four Sweet Sixteens. "We played a 1-3-1 and we stayed between him and the basket. He's a great player. I told our guys afterwards, ‘That kid, in my opinion, will play in the NBA next year.'
"Our team guarded Horace Jenkins and our team won the national championship. He is, in my opinion, the best player in Division III, but right now we are the best team in Division III."
Jenkins scored just six points in the first half as CUA was ahead by as much as 10 points before taking a 31-24 lead into halftime.
"Catholic did a good job of defending me," said Jenkins, who was held to a season-low 12 points last year against CUA on 4-for-19 shooting. "They knew what I wanted to do. I never got a good look. Give those guys credit."
The victory was the 16th in a row for the Cardinals, who set a school record for wins in a season. The team won its first game over a Division I opponent since 1981 when it defeated Albany (N.Y.) in November, captured the Capital Athletic Conference regular season and tournament titles and was a perfect 6-0 in its fourth consecutive appearance in the NCAA playoffs.
Sorrow and tragedy also marked the season. Sophomore Brian Meyer's 17-year-old sister, Lindsay, died of cystic fibrosis in late January a few weeks after receiving a lung transplant from each of her parents. Matt Hilleary and Blair Mills' mothers faced lengthy hospital stays, and Coach Lonergan attended an uncle's funeral the day CUA won to advance to its first Final Four.
Moreover, Rice, Hartman, Maloney and Judge were still grappling with the memory of losing housemate Anthony Bottoni, who wore No. 76 on the Cardinal football team before he was killed in an automobile collision in late December of 1999.
"It's a great feeling to win the national championship, especially with what our players have been through," Lonergan said. "I believe in God, but I don't believe God chooses who wins and loses and all that stuff. But to see the scoreboard with No. 76 up there and it being St. Patrick's Day, I don't know, ... I really believe things are meant to be.
"I just had a good feeling when I woke up today."
NOTES: Maloney was joined on the All-Tournament team by sophomore teammate Matt Hilleary, who had 15 points and 12 rebounds in the semifinals, and 12 points and three blocks in the championship game. Two of his rejections came in the final 5:15 of the title game. Jenkins, Chad Bostleman (Ohio Northern) and Luke Kasten (Illinois Wesleyan) were also named All-Tournament.
D3hoops.com names Maloney second-team All-American
Lonergan named regional co-Coach of the Year
NABC names Maloney honorable mention All-American
Championship pregame notes
Final Four pregame notes
Brockport State pregame notes
Cardinals reach NCAA Division III Tournament
Four Cardinals earn conference honors
Game stories are linked below
2000-01 Results (28-5, 11-3 CAC)
Stats and boxes
|Nov. 17||Columbia (Div. I) %||New Britain, Conn.||L, 63-58|
|Nov. 18||Albany State (Div. I) %||New Britain, Conn.||W, 59-56|
|Nov. 21||at Haverford||Haverford, Pa.||W, 70-67|
|Nov. 26||at Scranton||Scranton, Pa.||W, 69-64|
|Nov. 29||York (Pa.) *||DuFour Center||L, 76-62|
|Dec. 2||at Goucher *||Towson, Md.||W, 74-58|
|Dec. 9||Western Maryland||DuFour Center||W, 85-68|
|Jan. 3||at Lebanon Valley||Annville, Pa.||L, 75-65|
|CUA Pepsi Classic
|Jan. 10||Salisbury State *||DuFour Center||L, 78-71|
|Jan. 13||at Gallaudet *||Washington, D.C.||W, 85-72|
|Jan. 17||Mary Washington *||DuFour Center||W, 61-51|
|Jan. 20||at Marymount *||Arlington, Va.||W, 83-61|
|Jan. 24||at St. Mary's (Md.) *||St. Mary's City, Md.||L, 91-89|
|Jan. 27||Goucher *||DuFour Center||W, 88-55|
|Jan. 31||at York (Pa.) *||York, Pa.||W, 88-66|
|Feb. 7||at Salisbury State *||Salisbury, Md.||W, 67-64|
|Feb. 10||Marymount *||DuFour Center||W, 69-63|
|Feb. 12||Gallaudet *||DuFour Center||W, 79-61|
|Feb. 14||at Mary Washington *||Fredericksburg, Va.||W, 77-45|
|Feb. 17||St. Mary's (Md.) *||DuFour Center||W, 66-64|
|Feb. 20||Gallaudet #||DuFour Center||W, 96-60|
|Feb. 22||York (Pa.) #||DuFour Center||W, 82-65|
|Feb. 24||Marymount #||DuFour Center||W, 61-59|
|March 1||CCNY +||DuFour Center||W, 82-65|
|March 3||Widener +||Chester, Pa.||W, 69-67|
|March 9||Brockport State +||Worcester, Mass.||W, 69-64|
|March 10||Clark +||Worcester, Mass.||W, 82-78|
|March 16||Ohio Northern +||Salem, Va.||W, 82-77|
|March 17||William Paterson +||Salem, Va.||W, 76-62|
% Mohegan Sun Classic, New Britain, Conn.
# CAC Tournament
* Conference games
+ NCAA Tournament
Home games in bold
|10||Andy Rice||G||6-0||168||Sr.||Springfield, Va./West Springfield|
|11||Tim Judge||G||6-0||165||Sr.||West Chester, Pa./Archbishop Carroll|
|20||Adam Dickman||G||5-11||165||Fr.||Walkersville, Md./Thomas Johnson|
|21||Pat Maloney||G||6-2||200||Sr.||Brant Beach, N.J./Southern Regional|
|22||Kevin Wise||G||6-4||160||So.||Newtown, Pa./Notre Dame (N.J.)|
|23||Craig Avallone||G||6-1||192||So.||Lincroft, N.J./Christian Brothers Acad.|
|24||Ben Gibson||G||6-2||180||Fr.||Medford, N.J./Shawnee|
|25||Kyle Hyland||G||6-0||175||So.||Annapolis, Md./Severn|
|32||Mike Hartman||G||6-3||180||Sr.||Media, Pa./Archbishop Carroll|
|33||Matt Hilleary||C||6-6||189||So.||Manassas, Va./Seton School|
|34||Chris Altenburger||F||6-5||200||So.||Medford, N.J./Shawnee|
|42||Kurt Zeisler||F||6-5||224||Sr.||Plymouth, Mass./Shawnee (N.J.)|
|43||Blair Mills||F||6-4||195||Fr.||Hebron, Md./Wicomico|
|44||Brian Meyer||F||6-6||225||So.||Rutherford, N.J./St. Mary's|
|52||Will Morley||F||6-4||205||Fr.||Olney, Md./Good Counsel|
|54||Ryan Sheehy||C||6-7||230||So.||Toms River, N.J./Christian Brothers Acad.|
Head Coach: Mike Lonergan (CUA '88)
Assistant Coaches: G.J. Kissal, Marty Moyers, Greg Sesny, Bob Wagner
Managers: Robert Hay, Joseph Olickan, Jr.