Cardozo employed a pesky defense and a fast-paced offense to stave off a challenge by visiting Wilson en route to a 66-55 victory at Lincoln Junior High School last night.

Cardozo never trailed and led by as many as 11 points. Wilson refused to roll over and would narrow the gap only to have the Clerks force turnovers.

Wilson's Mahdi Spruill led all scorers with 19 points in a losing effort and Jermaine Gregory contributed 14 points for the Clerks (10-7).

But it was the defensive play of Wilson guards Norris Martin, Edward Williams and Greg Jones that held the Tigers at bay throughout the game.

Cardozo forced five first-half turnovers and 13 second-half turnovers while taking Wilson out of its halfcourt offense and into a running game the Tigers (9-7) couldn't handle.

"We committed a lot of turnovers tonight and weren't taking any good shots," Wilson Coach Bill Powell said.

"We took too many long shots at the wrong time and didn't get the rebounds. They kept breaking our traps and capitalizing with easy baskets and dunks."

At the end of the first quarter Cardozo held a 21-11 edge but Wilson went on a 13-3 run to tie it at 24-24 with 3:30 remaining in the half. The Tigers' 1-3-1 zone defense threw off Cardozo and held the Clerks scoreless for nearly four minutes.

But Cardozo quickly regrouped, scoring seven straight points during one stretch to regain the lead and close the half leading by 33-28.

"We didn't play our best tonight. We made too many mistakes and didn't make the adjustments when we needed to," Cardozo Coach Henry Lindsay said. "Our reaction to their zones was bad and there were periods of time when we didn't score well at all and missed a lot of free throws. Wilson is a young, scrappy team and they played us well. They were no pushover."

Cardozo outscored Wilson 17-12 in the third quarter to increase its lead to 50-40.

Gregory scored seven of his 14 points in the final five minutes, accounting for nearly half of Cardozo's 16-point fourth-quarter performance.