With two minutes to play, neither Catholic Coach Jack Kvancz nor his assistant, Eddie McNamara, believed what they saw.
"This is kind of unusual for us," McNamara said to Kvancz. "Usually we're scrambling around at this point."
Not last night. By then the Cardinals has a 13-point lead over Colgate and they went on to an easy 70-55 victory before 800 fans in Brookland Gym. It was the Cards' fifth straight win in their ancient arena.
Next time Kvancz sees Howard Coach A. B. Williamson, he ought to thank him. When McNamara scouted Friday night's Howard-Colgate game, he noticed that Howard's pressure, combination defense had made life difficult for Colgate's leading scorer, junior Mike Ferrara.
"Eddie came back and told me that he thought we could beat them by-really concentrating on Ferrara," Kvancz said. "He didn't think they had any other players who could shoot with much range, so we decided to go with a box and one."
While their teammates controlled the remaining Red Raiders, Donnie Farrell, Joe Colletta and Bob Gurney took turns harassing Ferrara, who had scored 25 points (on 26 shots) against Howard and was averaging 25.7 points a game.
Ferrara appeared ready to have another good night when he scored six of his team's first eight points. But from then on he was barely noticeable. The Cardinal defenders limited him to one more basket the first half, which thanks to 14-14 burst, ended with CU leading, 41-30. Bill Dooley, with 12 points, and Mike Neville with 10 took turns ruining the Red Raider, 1-2-2 zone.
"I told them at halftime that they had done a great job in the first half," Kvancz said, "but that we couldn't afford to let up in the second half."
Kvancz needn't have bothered. Far from letting up, his players did better.
After scoring the opening basket, again Ferrara disappeared, to be seen once more only when he received a technical foul for bouncing the ball off an official's foot after being displeased by a call.
Meanwhile, with Farrell consistently pentrating Colgate's defense for most of his game-high 12 assists, the Cardinals moved to a 60-44 lead.
"We've wanted to pick up the tempo on other nights, but it hasn't worked," Kvancz explained. "For some reason it did tonight. We were hoping for a playground game and we got it.
"I think the fact that we played defense so aggressively got up running on offense, and we got a lot of transition baskets."