Bill Dankos sank a layup at the buzzer to lift Catholic University over Richmond in a 73-72 thriller last night at Brookland Gym.
Dankos' shot ended a four-game Cardinal losing streak with Catholic's third victory against 10 losses.
"Our luck is going to turn," said the exuberant sophomore forward. "Two weeks ago, the ball would have gone out of bounds and we'd have lost."
Point guard Donnie Farrell, who contributed two key assists and an important rebound down the stretch, saw his last-second lob pass graze off the backboard and end up in the happy grasp of Dankos, standing to the right of the basket, for the gamewinner.
"We were actually trying to get a guy to roll out to the free throw line and another at the low post," said Cardinal Coach Jack Kvancz. "Then we would have had the option of passing the ball to either. Bill was supposed to be the one at the foul line -- I'll have to get on him about being out of position," Kvanez jested.
The winning basket came after Richmond's Ken Rosemond had fed Bob Boehling for a layup that lifted the Spiders into a 72-71 lead with nine seconds left. That was the fourth lead change in the final five minutes.
Center Mike Neville, who scored nine of Catholic's final 14 points, was almost the goat when he missed the first free toss of a one-and-one with 17 seconds remaining and the Cardinals up, 71-70.
Neville, a freshman, finished with a team-high 17 points. Substitute guard Charles Battle followed with 16 points on seven-of-nine shooting in 24 minutes of action.
Spider sophomore forward Mike Perry carried most of the load for Richmond, now 3-8, canning 14 of 21 shots for 28 points. But the Cardinal zone collapsed on Perry in the late going, denying him the ball except for one offensive rebound basket in the final 4:30.
Both teams shot well in a close first half, the visitors conecting at a 53 percent clip and the Cardinals 55 percent. Richmond constantly rushed the ball downcourt to set up numerous layups by Perry (14 points) and fellow forward Vince Cowan (10), before the hosts could set up a defense.
Battle came in with 12 minutes left in the half and racked up eight points; his three point play with 4:29 left gave the Cardinals their biggest lead of the half, 35-30. Battle benefited from CU's spread offense, sinking three driving layups.
In the half, the Spiders made two more field goals than Catholic, but were outscored from the foul line, 13-3. Catholic led at intermission. 41-38.