Last March, Towson Catholic ended St. Frances' three-year reign as Catholic League tournament champion.
And in their first meeting of the season yesterday, the No. 5 Owls put the No. 8 Panthers' aspirations of their fifth straight regular-season title in jeopardy with a convincing, 51-32 triumph at the University of Baltimore.
Junior guard Gil Goodrich led Towson Catholic (15-5, 5-1) with 16 points, and Keith Jenifer had 11 and seven rebounds.
After falling behind early, Towson Catholic never trailed again as the defending league tournament titlists remained behind top-ranked Spalding in the league race.
St. Frances won both regular-season meetings with the Owls last season, including a victory in the final weekend of the regular season to clinch the title.
In the third game between the schools, a playoff for the tournament championship that also meant a spot in the Alhambra Catholic Invitational at Frostburg State, the Owls ended St. Frances' hold.
Towson Catholic yesterday left the Panthers (6-5 overall) in a 1-3 hole in the Catholic League. Tim Payne scored eight points to lead St. Frances.
Towson Catholic controlled the Panthers at the offensive end, limiting them to few second-shot opportunities, and the Owls enjoyed a 25-point lead in the second half.
"We were able to move without the ball," said Goodrich, a 5-foot-9 sharpshooter. "Our defense and rebounding was great today."
With its motion offense in gear, Towson Catholic hit seven three-pointers in the first half, Goodrich accounting for four of them.
The transfer from Cardinal Gibbons awoke Towson Catholic from a 5-0 deficit with two three-pointers during an 8-0 run that gave the Owls a lead they never relinquished.
They built their advantage to 27-13 in the second quarter with a 12-2 run before settling for a 33-17 halftime cushion after a jumper by Aaron Early with two seconds left.
"They shot very well, and shot three-pointers like they were nothing," said St. Frances coach William Wells, whose team lost to St. Maria Goretti on Friday. "We practiced against that. Today, it looked like we quit."
Pub Date: 1/25/99