Spalding drops Towson Catholic

Top-ranked Owls see 17-game win streak end

February 07, 2000|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

An overflow crowd packed Towson Catholic's tiny gym yesterday to watch No. 5 Archbishop Spalding upset the top-ranked Owls, 61-53, ending their 17-game winning streak.

Spalding (14-8, 6-1 Baltimore Catholic League) also handed the Owls (20-5, 7-1) their first loss in the BCL. The two teams meet again tomorrow at 6 p.m. at Spalding.

Yesterday's game matched the top two BCL teams of the past two years, and most fans didn't need a roster to identify the marquee players. But filing out of the gym after the game, many were asking, "Who was that No. 24 kid"?

That would be Spalding's Matt Hazen.

Spalding's two All-Metro players, Derrick Snowden (14 points, five rebounds, two assists) and Tremaine Robinson (nine points, game-high 13 rebounds), didn't disappoint. Neither did the Owls' All-Metro guard, Keith Jenifer, and 6-foot-8, 250-pound Jason Osborne (10 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks, three assists).

However, it was Hazen who stole the spotlight and enabled the Cavs, in the words of Owls coach Mike Daniel, "to control the tempo."

Hazen, a 6-1 sophomore who was playing only two to three minutes a game before yesterday, played much of the second half. He had four points and three rebounds, and assisted on a crucial play down the stretch.

Most importantly, Hazen took the prolific Jenifer out of the game.

Jenifer, who had averaged more than 30 points per game over the past two weeks, was held to 16.

After a scoreless first period, Jenifer seemed to be warming up for a big finish when he scored eight points in the second quarter, but Spalding coach Mike Glick went to Hazen, who held the Owls' standout to four points in each of the last two quarters.

"Matt Hazen gets performance and MVP of the game," Glick said.

"Matt was not really an integral part of the game plan, but we were having a hard time stopping Jenifer.

"Matt's one of our best defensive players, and he stepped up, did such a great job that he had to play the whole second half."

With Isaac Brooks (three assists, two steals) scoring 14 of his game-high 19 points in the first half, the Cavaliers led 31-22 at intermission.

The Owls outscored the Cavs 16-9 in the third period, with sophomore Darnell Hopkins getting seven of his 15 points. That cut Spalding's lead to 40-38 going into the final quarter.

"I've been coming off the bench and expected to play only a few minutes at the most," said Hazen, who held Jenifer to only three shots in the last quarter, two of which sent him to the free-throw line (4-for-5).

"I just went out there and didn't let [Jenifer] get the ball. He was talking to me, didn't want a sophomore guarding him, but he's a very good player."

The Owls countered with Carmelo Anthony (eight points, three steals) feeding Osborne in the pivot, which resulted in three straight baskets by the big man to cut Spalding's lead to 48-46 with just over four minutes left.

A huge offensive rebound by Hazen and subsequent pass in the paint to Darren Johnson (11 points, four rebounds) resulted in a crucial three-point play that gave the Cavs command, 53-46, with 2: 22 left.

After the Owls cut it to 57-53 on a three-pointer by Anthony, Hazen hit two free throws with 32 seconds left to seal the verdict.

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