Fourth-ranked DeMatha survived a referee's rare call and sixth-ranked McNamara, 54-53, in a Metro Conference game last night before an overflow crowd at DeMatha.

Things don't get any easier for DeMatha (12-2 overall, 3-0 in the conference), which visits third-ranked Gonzaga Friday afternoon. McNamara fell to 11-2, 2-1.

"Top to bottom, there's not a better league in the country," DeMatha Coach Morgan Wootten said. "It was a crazy and exciting game. And now we have to go to Gonzaga. There's no rest for the weary."

With 11 seconds left last night and DeMatha leading, 54-52, McNamara's Nate Joy hit the front end of a one-and-one. He missed the second shot and DeMatha's Jerrod Mustaf grabbed the rebound and was fouled.

The Stags gathered for a meeting at the foul line before Mustaf's attempt. However, the referee dropped the ball before DeMatha was out of its huddle and a lane violation was called, giving McNamara a final possession with eight seconds left.

"That's a heck of a way to decide a game," Wootten said. "If they had won after that, it would have been the most bizarre thing I've seen in 32 years {at DeMatha}."

To add to the confusion, McNamara signaled for a timeout, but the official called the infraction instead. McNamara's Martin Somerville missed a jumper from the top of the key with two seconds left and teammate Quinn Harris couldn't get a decent shot off inside the lane as the buzzer sounded.

"That's what we wanted to do," McNamara Coach Marty Waters said. "Martin had the hot hand but it didn't fall. We even got the rebound, but Quinn was off-balance."

Mustaf, a 6-foot-11 senior, had a game-high 25 points on 11-of-15 shooting from the floor. He also had 16 rebounds and four blocked shots. No other DeMatha player had more than eight points.

Harris led the Mustangs with 13 points and seven rebounds and Eric Johnson had 10.

DeMatha led, 48-41, with 5:03 left to play on Ted Jeffries' tip-in. And when Ken Blakeney converted a layup with 2:35 left, the Stags had what seemed to be a comfortable 54-48 advantage.

But Somerville hit two free throws and Johnson scored on an offensive rebound to get the Mustangs to within 54-52 with 1:12 left. Blakeney missed the front end of a one-and-one and Joy missed a three-point shot with 31 seconds to play.

Again, Blakeney missed a free throw and the Mustangs had a chance to tie or win with 22 seconds remaining. Joy was fouled by Reggie Veney with 11 seconds left and made the first free throw.