The American University men entered last night's game against Catholic seeking to restore some order to their basketball world. Although American has a Division I program and Catholic is Division III, the Eagles had defeated the Cardinals by just eight points each of the past two seasons.
American, led by the offense of sophomore Patrick Doctor and the defense of senior guard Jarion Childs, came away with a more definitive victory last night, an 83-65 win in which the Eagles led by 30 during the second half.
Doctor, a 6-foot-8 forward, scored 18 points and was 8 of 12 shooting, and Childs had seven steals to go with 10 points and four assists. Senior Dan Harrington and junior Pat Maloney each scored 21 to lead Catholic, which was playing its season opener.
American won its home opener before an announced crowd of 3,050 to improve to 2-0. The Eagles went 9-19 last season, including an 81-73 win over Catholic. Two seasons ago, Catholic played the Eagles close before losing, 75-67.
"I let them know that," third-year American coach Art Perry said of his pregame talk with his team. "We've got too many players who hadn't experienced Catholic."
The Cardinals are one of only two teams that have been to the round of 16 of the NCAA Division III tournament each of the past two seasons. They returned three starters from last season's 23-7 team, but last night were overmatched from the start against American.
The Eagles took leads of 12-0 and 17-3, and led by 17 at halftime with Doctor scoring 14 points. American went on a 19-7 run midway through the second half, but Catholic's second team made a late rally against American's reserves.
American didn't have a significant size advantage on Catholic, which started two 6-8 players. Rather, the Eagles' speed, particularly on defense, proved the difference.
"Childs is the one that makes them go," ninth-year Catholic coach Mike Lonergan said. "It seemed like every time we got a rebound he'd sneak in there and get a steal. He's my favorite player on their team."