WASHINGTON, D.C. — There's a new team in first place in the Landmark Conference following tonight's slate of games, but Goucher nearly prevented Catholic from being the team that replaced Susquehanna atop the standings after the Crusaders were upset at home by Scranton.
The Gophers nearly pulled off an even bigger shocker, but the Cardinals went ahead to stay on a pair of free throws by Bryson Fonville with 2:04 left to play and went on to down head coach Tom Rose's squad, 67-63.
Even after Catholic built its lead up to six points with only 37 seconds remaining, Goucher wasn't ready to concede anything. Two fouls shots by Chris Outing (New Windsor, N.Y./James I. O'Neill) made it 62-58 with :30 showing on the clock. The Cardinals tacked on a free to go back up by five, but then the Gophers (9-13, 5-8 Landmark) made it a one-possession game thanks to a layup by Norman Allen II (Bowie, Md./Riverdale Baptist) with 11 seconds still be be played.
Two more free throws with just over six seconds remaining put the home team up by five again, but it took Goucher only two seconds to answer at the other end in the form of a 3-point basket by Norman. Two more free throws by Catholic's Louis Khouri with just under three seconds left to play bumped the final margin of victory up to four points.
For the game, the Cardinals (17-5, 10-3 Landmark Conference) were 24-for-33 at the charity stripe.
The two teams were never separated by more than five points throughout the first half. The only field goal for either team during the final three minutes was a buzzer-beating jumper by Outing that provided the Gophers with a 27-25 cushion.
A 3-point basket by Mychal Stefanides (Bel Air, Md./C. Milton Wright) on Goucher's fourth possession of the second half extended the lead to 34-27, which proved to be the biggest of the contest for the Gophers. Catholic used a 9-2 run to pull into a 36-36 deadlock with 14:54 left to play and the rest of the way there would be five more ties and four lead changes.
Stefanides finished with a career-high 18 points. The freshman guard was 7-for-9 from the field, including 3-for-5 on 3-point attempts.
Ed Oliver (Adelphi, Md./High Point) and Outing furnished the Gophers with 13 and 12 points, respectively.
Catholic had two double-figure scorers: Jay Howard with 27 points and Fonville with 21.
Goucher, one of seven teams still in mathematical contention for one of the four berths in the Landmark Conference postseason tournament, pays a visit to Scranton, Pa. on Saturday to do battle with the Royals. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m.