Anthony Oquendo said St. Frances "started getting lazy," as the No. 2 Panthers squandered most of a 16-point lead in the final period, but they held on for a 60-57 victory over Towson Catholic yesterday in East Baltimore.
It took four free throws by the Panthers' polished senior, Sean Mosley, and one by a freshman to secure the victory, which ended a six-game winning streak for the No. 11 Owls.
Mosley, who had game highs of 20 points and 12 rebounds, made four straight free throws in the final 31 seconds. Freshman point guard R.J. Williams made the first of two free throws with 20 seconds left to give the Panthers (15-6) a 58-54 lead, which was just enough to hold off a furious rally by the Owls (9-8).
"We needed the point at that crucial time, but I was nervous at the line," Williams said.
St. Frances tied the Owls for first in the Baltimore Catholic League at 5-1; top-ranked Mount St. Joseph is a half game back at 4-1.
With the win, the Panthers, who have won four of their past seven, moved to 7-1 in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference.
St. Frances led the entire game and boosted its lead to 55-39 with just over three minutes to play before the Owls closed the game with an 18-5 run. Vinnie Breckenridge, who led Towson Catholic with 13 points, hit his third three-pointer of the game with 49 seconds left to make it 55-49.
A three-pointer by Larry Bastfield cut the Panthers' lead to 57-54 before Williams hit a free throw.
"We started relaxing late in the game instead of keeping the pressure on, " said Oquendo, who had 16 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks.
"We started getting lazy, and we've been doing this the last three or four games. We have to learn how to finish."
Towson Catholic coach Josh Pratt said he was happy with his team's finish but not the overall effort, which included 9-for-16 shooting from the free-throw line.
The Owls played without one of their leading scorers, Lashon Edwards, who missed three games because of disciplinary reasons but is expected to return this week.