Bob Harvey, a quiet unassuming type who rarely gets a change to step in the spotlight, took advantage of the opportunity last night. The 6-foot-7 senior threw in 13 of his 15 points after intermission to help the Eagles solve Catholic's spread offense and earn a hard-fought 67-58 triumph before 1,435 at Fort Myer.
Catholic, winless in eight road contests was very much in the game until Harvey began shooting holes in its tight zone defense. The Eagles (8-6), a bit frustrated at not being able to pull away from the stubborn Cardinals, and unable to get the ball to their money man Boo Bowers, suddenly had to look elsewhere for a spark.
Harvey provided it. After AU had clung to a one-point lead, 40-39, early in the second half, Harvey accounted for six of his team's next eight points to push his team ahead, 46-41, with just under eight minutes to play.
"(Mike) Nevill did an excellent job on Bowers," said Catholic Coach Jack Kvancz. "When you play a defense like that (box and one) you're gambling the other guys don't beat you. But when a guy starts banging them in from the foul line then. . . but I don't think our guys could've played any better."
They harvey scoring splurge seemed to take a bit of the fight out of the feisty Cards (4-8). Despite some clutch shooting by Joe Colletta (18 points) and Bill Dooley, Catholic was unable to get any closer than five points the rest of the game.
After Colletta's second consecutive jumper pulled the Cards within five points for the final time, at 50-45, Harvey hit a jumper from the foul line, than muscled his way inside for a layup for a 54-45 AU advantage with five minutes left.
"Even with Boo covered on the box, I wasn't looking for my shot," said Harvey who also led all rebounders with 10. "But if I get an open shot, I'm going to take it. They really sagged off me so I just started shooting."
Bowers, who finished with a game-high 21 points, converted a Catholic turnover into a breakaway. After another Card miscue, Harvey followed up his own missed shot and the Eagles had their biggest lead of the game, 58-47, with 3:17 to play.
But the hustling Cards wouldn't go away. Dooley scored five points during a Catholic 9-4 run to cut the deficit to 62-56, with 36 seconds on the clock.
But, as in the winning minutes of the first half when CU ran out of gas, the Cards faded again and were forced to foul. AU began a steady trek to the free throw line and canned five of six from the stripe to put the Eagles out of their misery.
"We wanted to keep pressure on them 40 minutes," said AU coach Gary Williams. "We didn't want the game to get to the point where we were in a three-point game at the end. Their spread was very effective. We expected it but until you play against it you don't know how tough it can be."
CU, with Colletta penetrating at will to either score on short jumps or dish off passes to Danny Murray or Neville, gave AU fits in the first halt. The Cards led 26-23 after a Coletta drive with just over six minutes left before intermission. But that would be the last CU field goal of the half.
AU's relentless full-court pressure slowly began to take its toll, and the result was a 7-1 Eagle blitz and a 30-27 halftime lead.
"Tired, we just got tired" said Kvancz, who because of his lack of depth was forced to use two players who had played only a total of eight minutes all year.
CU continued its spread-to-score strategy in the opening minutes of the second half, cutting the gap to a point, 34-33, after a Neville basket.
AU's Leon Kearney (17) made sure his team stayed ahead, hitting three straight baskets before turning over the hero duties to Harvey.