Rod Balanis hit two free throws with 15 seconds remaining to lift DeMatha to a dramatic 68-66 upset victory over Archbishop Molloy of New York, the nation's top-ranked team, last night at Takoma Academy.
"I don't think we'll have a bigger win than this all season," said DeMatha Coach Morgan Wootten. "This was a great game between two outstanding teams. You couldn't ask for more."
The Stags (5-0) trailed, 53-48, after three periods but took a 66-62 lead with 1:19 to play. Molloy center and St. John's signee Rob Werdann (19 points, 10 rebounds) then connected on a shot in traffic. On DeMatha's next trip upcourt, Molloy's outstanding junior guard Kenny Anderson (game-high 26 points) stripped DeMatha's Jerrod Mustaf of the ball and drove the length of the court for a layup.
With DeMatha going for the game-winner, Anderson nearly pulled off another steal but was called for fouling Balanis (14 points) in the process. The Stags' 6-foot-3 senior then sank his free throws.
After Balanis' free throws, Anderson shot a 12-foot jumper that hung on the rim. Teammate Darien Simmons, trying to tip the ball in, was called for goaltending with eight seconds left. DeMatha's Jason Bishop was fouled and missed the front end of a one-and-one with three seconds left, but Mustaf intercepted a pass by Werdann as time expired.
Molloy Coach Jack Curran disagreed with the call on Anderson. "The steal Kenny made was clean," said Curran, whose team lost to the Stags last year on a shot at the buzzer. "But you can't have close games against DeMatha down here. You need a cushion."
Molloy (4-2), which defeated McNamara, 84-68, Friday night, led throughout the game, thanks primarily to the efforts of Anderson and the 6-11 Werdann. The Stanners did not go deep to their bench, and Wootten felt they may have worn down towards the end.
"We used nine or 10 guys tonight and I think we tired them out a little," said Wootten. "They went all the way with six guys. It's tough to keep up the intensity in a game like this when you do that."
"We weren't running our offense too well in the first half," said Mustaf, who turned in a 19-point, 12-rebound performance. "In the second half we hit a better percentage of our outside shots and that opened things up on the inside."
DeMatha hit six of eight three-pointers in the second half. Balanis was four of nine, and scored all his points but the final two free throws from that range.