Dominant Gibbons rolls past St. Frances

January 17, 1994|By Calvin Watkins | Calvin Watkins,Contributing Writer

Cardinal Gibbons continued its dominance over the Catholic League with an 81-56 blowout of St. Frances yesterday at the University of Baltimore. The No. 6 Crusaders (13-4, 4-0) have beaten their four Catholic League opponents by an average margin of 25.3 points.

Against No. 14 and host St. Frances (5-5, 1-2), they turned the first quarter into a spectacular display of defense as they forced nine turnovers and took a 23-5 first-quarter lead.

"We had a great start, we were ready to play today," said Gibbons coach Ray Mullins. "We played both ends of the floor and we got a lot of steals."

The Crusaders were led by star point guard Steve Wojciechowski's 24 points and swingman Jerard Rucker's 18. But the first-quarter spurt was keyed by sixth man Josh Davalli, who hit three three-pointers to put Gibbons up 13-2 with just 3:56 left in the quarter. Davalli didn't score again, but Gibbons forced 26 turnovers and went 32-for-44 from the foul line in cruising to the win.

"We always like to force turnovers," said Wojciechowski, who went 14-for-17 from the free-throw line. "We did a good job of keeping them out of their rhythm with our press. We showed patience on offense."

St. Frances closed to within 17 points, 58-41, late in the third quarter after Wojciechowski picked up his fourth foul, but Gibbons went 15-for-18 from the line in the last period as the Panthers were forced to foul and were called for two technicals. One of the technicals led to the ejection of freshmen forward Mark Karcher, their leading scorer (14.0).

"That's the only thing that got us, that first quarter," St. Frances coach William Wells said. "We lost our composure and Davalli hit those threes and we couldn't get it together."

Karcher finished with a season-low nine points, with senior Robert McClain leading the Panthers with 16. "We didn't get back on defense enough," said Karcher. "We didn't call out on our picks and they hit the shots when it counted. The start of the game hurt us, then we started to get our confidence back, but the referees made a lot of calls."

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