Jack Kvancz, the Catholic University basketball coach, stood in the visitor's locker room clutching a plastic cup filled with champagne and uttered words that made a great deal of sense: "It's over."
CU was trounced by George Mason, 98-66, last night at the GMU field house in the final game of the season for the Cardinals and their final game as a Division 1 team. Next year, they go to Division III. Their season record is 4-20.
As usual in this injury-riddled season in which Kvancz's main concern was morale rather than winning, the Cardinals were out of it quickly. Mason (10-14) took a 13-6 lead, then Ricky Dillard scored 11 straight points. The Patriots led, 24-8, with six minutes left in the half and that was it.
After that, the only suspense was whether Patriot Dave Skaff would outscore the entire CU team. He didn't, but the 6-foot-6 senior finished with a Mason-record 41 points, making 17 of of 26 shots from the field and seven of seven from the foul line.
Skaff's record came by design. When it became clear he had a shot to break the mark of 39 points held by Herb Estes and Hal Woodside, Mason Coach Joe Harrington ordered his team to feed Skaff the ball and let him shoot. He did. Skaff scored 13 of 14 Patriot points within three minutes late in the game and got his 40th on a free throw with a 2:02 remaining.
Skaff seemed to toy with the outsized and outmanned Cardinals, but he insisted it wasn't as easy as it looked.
"I still had to work for my shots," he said. "I was tired. They used a box and one (defense) a little bit and I had to move a little more than usual to get open."
Kvancz, meanwhile, was breathing one huge sigh of relief. "Nobody quit," he said, summing up the season. "Everyone hung in there, and in all honesty it was fun."
But not enough fun to make Kvancz wish the season were starting over. Once again, Kvancz said it: "I'm just happy it's over."