No. 19 Towson Catholic pulled out a version of the Princeton offense last night and took top-ranked Cardinal Gibbons to school, scoring a 53-45 victory over the Crusaders in a Baltimore Catholic League tournament quarterfinal at Goucher College.
The fifth-seeded Owls, who had lost twice to fourth-seeded Cardinal Gibbons (27-7) during the regular season, move on to tomorrow's 6:45 p.m. semifinal against top-seeded and second-ranked Mount St. Joseph, a 68-46 winner over Loyola in another first-round game.
Towson Catholic (21-11) came in determined to slow the pace and try to get the ball inside more. The Owls controlled the ball, found numerous back-door layups, jumped to a big early lead and fought off some fourth-quarter trouble for the win.
"[Towson Catholic coach] Mike [Daniel] did a great job," Cardinal Gibbons coach Bob Flynn said. "He had his team ready and we just came out flat."
Jamal Smith led the Owls with 15 points; Carroll Mitchell (13), Steven Johns (10) and Darren Hopkins (eight) also contributed.
Towson Catholic controlled the pace so well that it took away most of the Crusaders' offensive patience, and they often shot after making just one pass. Leon Williams scored a game-high 21 for Cardinal Gibbons, but he did not get much help.
"The last two [times] we played them we were rushing our shots," Hopkins said. "Today we just wanted to slow it down."
The Owls had to overcome a shaky fourth quarter. They held a 43-28 lead after three quarters and began using more of a four-corners style offense in the final period before running into trouble when the Crusaders began pressuring.
Towson Catholic made nine fourth-quarter turnovers and didn't make a basket in the period. But the Owls hit 10 of 17 free throws and forced six Cardinal Gibbons turnovers and never saw their lead shrink below eight.
No. 3 Archbishop Spalding 66, Calvert Hall 57: Rudy Gay scored a game-high 22 points, but the second-seeded Cavaliers (26-6) needed guard Marquis Sullivan's strong effort off the bench to beat the seventh-seeded Cardinals (15-16).
Sullivan scored all 15 of his points in the second half to help the Cavaliers slowly pull away from a Calvert Hall team they had beaten by just one point on two occasions this season.
"Everyone was trying to double on Rudy, and that just left open spots for me and my teammates," Sullivan said. "Also, in the second half, we just tried to run more."
Spalding held a 32-22 halftime lead but stretched it to 58-38 when Sullivan made back-to-back layups 18 seconds apart in the first minute of the fourth quarter.
Calvert Hall made it closer in the final minutes, but the Cardinals never got their offense going and struggled throughout.
The Cavaliers advance to tomorrow's 5 p.m. semifinal at Goucher against third-seeded St. Frances, a 62-43 winner over sixth-seeded St. Maria Goretti.
No. 2 Mount St. Joseph 68, Loyola 46: The top-seeded Gaels had little trouble with the eighth-seeded Dons, jumping to a 25-point halftime lead and cruising to victory.
William Thomas led the Gaels with a game-high 20 points as they routed the Dons for the third time this season.
The Gaels raced to a 42-17 halftime lead and remained in control against a Loyola team that lost all 14 Catholic League regular-season games and had all kinds of offensive problems.
Beloved Rogers and Brett Keller led the Dons with nine points apiece.
No. 4 St. Frances 62, St. Maria Goretti 43: Gordon Chase scored 16 points to lead the third-seeded Panthers to a win over the sixth-seeded Gaels.