Catholic wins at Clark
to reach Final Four

WORCESTER, Mass. - Coach Mike Lonergan wasn't pleased with his team after its afternoon shoot-around Saturday (March 10). He's pleased now.

His Cardinals are going to their first Final Four.

Pat Maloney scored a career-playoff-high 25 points and Matt Hilleary had 12 points and 12 rebounds to lead No. 14 Catholic University to an 82-78 victory in the Northeast Sectional championship at Clark University's Kneller Athletic Center on Saturday night.

"I'm very happy for our team," said Lonergan, whose day began by attending an uncle's funeral in New London, Conn. "We were one win away from the Final Four last year and you never know if you'll get that chance again. Fortunately we got another chance and took advantage of it."

The Cardinals (26-5) will play No. 3 Ohio Northern (26-2) at Salem Civic Center on March 16 at 6 p.m. No. 17 Illinois Wesleyan (23-6) meets No. 11 William Paterson (24-4) in the other semifinal at 8 p.m. Friday's losing teams will play for third place at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. The championship game is set for 5 p.m.

In winning their 14th consecutive game, the Cards set a school record for wins in a season, eclipsing the 25-4 mark they posted three seasons ago. The Cougars (24-5), who trailed almost the entire game, had their 11-game winning streak snapped.

After Clark took its biggest lead, 65-62 on a 3-pointer by freshman Trevor Walker with 5:41 remaining, the Cards went on a 16-5 tear to lead by eight with 28.8 seconds to go. But the lead quickly dissipated.

The Cougars scored eight points in the next 21 seconds to trail by just 81-78 with seven seconds left. They then fouled Kevin Wise without any time ticking off. After missing his first free throw, Wise salted CUA's fifth consecutive NCAA playoff win on the road by hitting the second for the final margin.

Walker, who scored a game- and career-high 31 points, made nine 3-pointers and all four of his free throws. He scored 22 points in the second half as Clark fought back from as much as 10 down in the opening 20 minutes. Leading 38-31 at halftime, the Cardinals made it 42-35 early in the second period on a rebound slam dunk by Hilleary, who added three of CUA's seven blocks.

Cardinal freshman Will Morley scored a personal-playoff-high 16 points and collected seven rebounds. He hit 5 of 9 from the field and all six of his free throws, including two that put CUA up 81-75 with 12.4 seconds left. Andy Rice added 11 points and five boards, and Maloney hit 4 of 5 from the bonus sphere and handed out five assists. His triple from well beyond the arc with 1:23 to go gave the Cards a 74-70 advantage.

CUA made 51% of its field goals, 70% of its 3-pointers and 78.3% of its free throws. The Cougars hit 38.7% from the field, 38.9% from 3-point range and 66.7% from the line. The Cardinals won the battle of the boards, 43-31.