For most DeMatha opponents, contending with 6-foot-10 center Jerrod Mustaf is enough. Yesterday, however, the Stags used a steady stream of big men to leave the visiting Carroll Lions humbled.
Mustaf scored 18 points and had 16 rebounds, 6-3 forward Bobby Hill had 17 points and seven rebounds and 6-8, 250-pound reserve forward Ted Jeffries added nine points and 10 rebounds as fourth-ranked DeMatha defeated 11th-ranked Carroll, 88-72, in a Metro Conference game.
The victory was the ninth for the Stags in their last 10 games. In improving to 18-3, 2-0 in the second half of the league's season, DeMatha outrebounded Carroll, 50-21, and made 33 of 36 free throws (93 percent).
Carroll was led by Lawrence Moten's 20 points and Marvin Graves' 15. The Lions (14-6, 1-1) made only 42 percent of their shots from the floor.
"It is especially hard to guard a guy my size when their biggest man is 6-5," said Mustaf, who scored 10 of his points in the fourth quarter. "But with Bobby and Ted, it is even tougher. Having Ted out there really takes the pressure off me."
DeMatha was an 85-77 winner over Carroll earlier this season, but despite the statistical edge yesterday, had trouble shaking the Lions until the final minute.
DeMatha led, 62-57, after Rod Balanis (10 points) made two free throws with 1:05 left in the third period.
On several occasions in the fourth quarter, however, Carroll's aggressive defense brought the Lions within eight points. The final time was after Eric Hill's basket with 54 seconds to play, but DeMatha finished with a 7-1 run as Mustaf and Jeffries combined for five points.
Carroll guard Hill scored 10 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter, but that demonstrated the Lions' inability to succeed inside.
"When Jerrod, Bobby Hill and myself are in the game, it is just hard to defend against us," said Jeffries. "When they had the ball, we were concentrating on just denying them the ball inside."
DeMatha used a 2-3 zone defense considerably, which further complicated Carroll's efforts to overcome the mismatches inside.
"We wanted to push them a bit further out with the shots they were taking," said Coach Morgan Wootten of the zone. "Plus, whenever they did take a shot, we felt the zone would help us limit them to one shot."
On the other end, DeMatha often had more than one chance. Of the Stags' 50 rebounds, 16 were offensive. Six of Hill's seven rebounds were offensive, and he scored on follow shots after three of them.
The Lions led, 21-19, after Graves made a three-point shot with 15 seconds left in the first quarter. But DeMatha ran off a 14-6 spurt in the first three minutes of the second period and never trailed again.