Wheeling Jesuit slips past Charleston
Catich sparks Cardinals with 24 points and eight boards
WEST LIBERTY, VW -- For the first time in school history, the sixth-seeded Wheeling Jesuit advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division II Atlantic Region Tournament. The Cardinals posted the first round win over the No 3 seed and WVIAC foe Charleston by a score of 79-76. Although, the Cardinals trailed for only 24 seconds in the entire game, the UC Golden Eagles made it interesting down the stretch.
“It was a good win for us,” Head Coach Danny Sancomb said. “Anytime you win this late in the season it’s a good win.”
“When we play well and when we play our game, we are difficult to beat. Our offense is tough to guard, and our defense stepped it up today,” Sancomb added.
Steve Catich had an all-around team-leading performance. The senior from Tyrone, Pa. led the Cardinals with 24 points and eight rebounds. Midway through the second half, Catich took control of the game, scoring 16 of Wheeling Jesuit’s 18 points, while senior Marquis Moore’s dunk was the only other two points scored during the six minute span.
“Yeah, I had a hot streak,” said Catich. “Didn’t intentionally take over the game, we worked the ball around, and I was able to get in position to score.”
“We work for easy shots in our offense, we have the ability to make good passes and rank second in assists in the NCAA,” Sancomb stated. “Steve did a great job to get open and creating a shot.”
With 3:00 remaining in the game, Wheeling Jesuit seemed to be cruising, holding on to a nine-point, 73-64, advantage after a pair of foul shots from Catich. But little did the Cardinals know, that UC’s Xavier Humphrey would catch fire with 2:56 remaining in the game.
Humphrey connected with two consecutive 3-pointers, and poured in a third, after teammate Evan Faulkner hit from deep, to tie the game 76-76 with 1:07 left to play. On the Cardinals next possession, Joe Prati was fouled during a strong post move, but only split the pair of free throws to give the Cardinals a 77-76 lead.
With 17 seconds remaining, the Golden Eagles attempted a back cut, but the alley-oop pass was broken up and landed in Ukwuoma’s hands, who secured the win by burying two foul shots.
Charleston’s Brandon Ross opened the Atlantic Region tournament with a long-range 3-pointer, giving the UC the first lead of Saturday afternoon’s game, but the Cardinals quickly took command of the scoreboard. Back-to-back layups by Ben Siefert and Marquis Moore established a 4-3 lead, a lead the Cardinals held on to the entire first half.
Jesuit proceeded to outscore the Golden Eagles 10-2, building a 14-5 advantage with 15:38 showing on the clock. Recardo Gaddy led the mini-burst with five points on a strike from deep and a layup. Steve Catich added a 3-point bomb, and Siefert found his way to the rim for two points.
Charleston closed the gap, scoring 10-of-12 points and the game was briefly tied at 16 apiece. Josh Valentic ended the stalemate with a shot from beyond the 3-point arc, and the Cardinals built a 32-23 advantage. Pete Brogdon provided the offensive spark from the bench. The senior from Weirton, W.Va. Jesuit led by as many as 12 points, 42-30 with 4:07 left to play before the break, but Charleston used a 10-3 run to close out the half. At the break, Wheeling Jesuit led 45-40.
The Cardinals will play the NCAA's No.7 ranked team Shaw University (NC) on Sunday, March 11 at 5 p.m.