McDonogh coach Matt MacMullan had a tough time dealing with his host and No. 8 Eagles' 53-44 loss to No. 6 Archbishop Spalding yesterday in a key Baltimore Catholic League/Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference game.
"I was frustrated with the way we lost, because I felt we had some shots we should make and didn't make," said MacMullan, whose Eagles shot just 2-for-16 (12.5 percent) from the field in the third period, 6-for-27 (22 percent) in the second half and 16-for-55 (29 percent) overall.
Spalding didn't shoot much better (15-for-42, 36 percent), but won the game on the foul line in the final period. Will Bowers led the Cavaliers with a game-high 17 points.
The Cavaliers, who were beginning a stretch of six games in nine days, including a noon contest today at No. 18 Cardinal Gibbons, converted 10 of 12 at the line to outscore the Eagles 14-6 in the last eight minutes.
The result left the two teams and No. 3 Mount St. Joseph tied in the loss column atop the combined circuit.
McDonogh (22-3) is tied for first with Mount St. Joseph (22-2), whom the Eagles play host to at 6 p.m. Tuesday, at 11-2. Spalding (18-4), which has beaten McDonogh twice, is a game behind in third place at 9-2.
"Everybody had to step it up because Rudy [Gay] was a little under the weather," said Spalding point guard Jesse Brooks, who had nine points and seven assists. "We handled ourselves well under pressure. Now we ... can win [the league title]."
Gay, Spalding's leading scorer (14.7), is battling the flu and scored six points while playing sporadically. His two-handed dunk off a pass from Brooks with two minutes left gave the Cavaliers a 49-43 lead.
McDonogh forged a 28-23 halftime lead behind Mike Popoko, who had a game-high 10 rebounds (eight defensive) and scored seven of his 11 points in the second period.
Spalding started the second half with an 8-2 run, as Gus Durr, who led his team in rebounds with six, scored four of his six points. Tim Brackney's three-pointer ended the third period and gave Spalding a 39-38 lead.
The 7-foot Bowers opened the final period with a basket to make it 41-38 and later made four straight free throws down the stretch.
Spalding mixed in a triangle-and-two defense with a box-and-one to hold Corey Davis (12 points) scoreless in the final period. Davis had made two of his three of three-pointers in the third period.
"It was Josh Pratt's idea to go to the triangle-and-two at the end of the game and it was key to the win," said Spalding coach Mike Glick of his JV coach.
McDonogh's last field goal was by Justin Drummond (eight points) with 4:30 left in the game.