The first quarter was barely half over when All-Met guard Austin Freeman took an inbounds pass on the right wing, jumped and released a shot. The ball bounced gently off the front of the rim before finally falling through the net. The Washington Catholic Athletic Conference game was not five minutes old, but second-ranked DeMatha had established its dominance, and the Stags were getting the bounces too.

Freeman made two three-pointers and finished with 25 points, and Isaiah Tate added four threes a career-high 24 points as the Stags overcame a sensational effort by All-Met guard Chris Wright and beat fourth-ranked St. John's, 76-62, before 2,500 last night at Gallaudet.

Wright finished with 35 points, including all of his team's 18 points in the second quarter and 23 of the Cadets' 27 in the first half. But as was the story in each of the teams' three meetings this season, DeMatha (25-6) had way too much for St. John's, and the Stags coasted to their third consecutive WCAC title.

"That's something very special," said DeMatha Coach Mike Jones, a player on two of the teams the last time a school won three consecutive WCAC titles from 1990 to 1992.

Last night's outcome was never in doubt. With Georgetown Coach John Thompson III and George Mason Coach Jim Larranaga watching from the corners -- each had two recruits playing -- Freeman (Georgetown) and Tate (George Mason) combined to score the Stags' first 18 points.

"Everything was going well for us," said Freeman, who made 9 of 14 shots and had eight rebounds. "We were hitting everything."

By the time Jeff Peterson made a long jumper from the top of the key, DeMatha had a 20-4 lead. Try as Wright did, despite DeMatha consistently running an extra defender at him, St. John's (24-7) never got closer than eight points the rest of the game.

No. 2 DeMatha 76,

No. 4 St. John's 62

The Right Number: It was DeMatha's 11th consecutive victory over St. John's, a streak that spans the past four seasons. The Stags beat the Cadets in each of the past three WCAC tournaments.

Up Next:DeMatha will play DCIAA champion Cardozo in the City Title game Monday at Verizon Center.