There was no mercy. Mount Saint Mary's, the top-ranked team in Division II, defeated the visiting Cardinals of Catholic University, 75-54, last night for its 59th win the 59-year-old series.
Jim Rowe was the leading scorer for the Mounts (21-1) with 20 points. Geoff Mack, one of Catholic's walking wounded, was high with 17.
Catholic (4-15) was thoroughly outmanned, on the floor and in the stands, where two top CU players, Bill Dankos and Danny Murray, sat with canes and crutches to keep them company. And, despite the 21-point loss, the Cardinals played as well as they could, while Mount Saint Mary's did not.
"We weren't up for this game," said MSM forward Steve Rossignoli. "Maybe it was because, looking at their schedule, and finding out that Dankos, their leading scorer and rebounder, was out for the year, there wasn't too much to get thrilled about."
So much for the rivalry.
Catholic Coach Jack Kvancz, who is beginning to sound like Job, said, "What can you say? For what we've got, we played well, very, very well."
MSM Coach Jim Phelan was sympathetic. "They're ending up playing a Division I schedule with Division III players," he said. "A couple of them are very good but there just not enough of them."
Kvancz said that with Catholic moving down to a Division III schedule next year, this game may be remembered as the last in the series (MSM leads, 59-28). And that's all it may be remembered for.
Mount Saint Mary's turned over the ball seven times in the first half, and was outrebounded, 18-11. At halftime, Phelan says he started yelling. Hard. "They were unmotivated. When they heard Dankos was out, they figured it was a joke. But when you go to an all-out delay, you can stay close, and that's what Catholic was doing. In a slowdown, you can't get careless and let them get an extra shot, which is what they were doing. It was just a matter of time before we would wear them down."
MSM came out for the second half looking like zealots. In the first three minutes, they outscored the Cardinal, 10-2, and increased their lead to 42-31. In its first five possessions of the second half, Catholic made only one basket, turning the ball over twice and missing twice.
Rowe said, "We got ourselves together in the second half, but I don't think we put together a good half. We played well only in spurts."
With 5:03 remaining.Catholic closed within eight, 56-48, the closest it got in the second half, on a foul shot by Mack. But then Rossognoli, Rowe, and Durelle Lewis (who had only two of his 10 points in the first half), the three players Phelan says could play in Division I, began to take over.
"Rossignoli and Rowe were shooting very well, particularly Rowe," Phelan said, "and the little guy (Lewis) started making some shots."
MSM scored on six of its next seven possessions for 12 unanswered points and took a 20-point lead, 68-48.