Goucher falls, needs help to get up Catholic wins CAC, 74-73

Gophers await at-large call

March 01, 1998|By Gary Davidson | Gary Davidson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

WASHINGTON -- The Goucher College men's basketball team will gather on its campus for a 6: 45 p.m. conference call today that will determine the Gophers' NCAA Division III tournament fate.

All signs point to an at-large invitation into the 48-team field, but Goucher must wait because nationally eighth-ranked Catholic earned the Capital Athletic Conference's automatic bid with its 19th straight victory, a 74-73 decision over the Gophers in the league's tournament final last night before 1,025 at DuFour Center.

"I think we should go, but it's not in our hands anymore," Goucher coach Leonard Trevino said. "We're fifth in the [Mid Atlantic] region and 20-7."

Goucher, which had won three of the previous four CAC tournaments and went to the 1995 and '97 postseason, should be helped because it plays a difficult schedule. The Gophers losses, three of which came to CU (24-3), were to teams with a cumulative .800 winning percentage entering last night's games.

"There are a lot of politics with the selection committee, but I definitely think Goucher should go," CU coach Mike Lonergan said. "If Goucher's not one of the top six teams in the region, there's something wrong."

The Gophers have to wait for a decision because they made only 23 of 64 shots (35.9 percent) and committed 18 turnovers, matching Catholic's sloppy play. CU was 19 of 55 (34.5 percent) from the field and gave the ball away 22 times.

"We played hard. I'm not mad at our effort," said Witherspoon, who scored 14, all in the second half. "Catholic is a good team. You make mistakes against them, they capitalize."

Catholic won despite not making a field goal in the final 8: 35. After Pat Maloney's driving layup put the Cardinals ahead 58-51, CU closed the contest by making 16 of 18 free throws.

Neither team led by more than four points in the first half, but CU expanded a 38-34 halftime advantage and expanded it to 52-39 in the first 4: 08 after intermission. Goucher never caught up, but six points by Bernard Threatt and then a three-pointer by Tavar Witherspoon did help the Gophers close the deficit to 64-62 with 5: 18 left.

Despite three missed shots, a turnover and two missed free throws by Witherspoon, Goucher again narrowed the margin to two points, 67-65, with 2: 17 to go on another three-pointer by Witherspoon. Catholic, however, made seven of eight free throws from there. Goucher guard Bakari Ward, who scored a game-high 24, hit a 35-footer at the buzzer to trim the final deficit to one.

Pub Date: 3/01/98

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