WASHINGTON, D.C. – Less than 24 hours after delivering a big milestone, the Ursinus College men's basketball team saw a tournament title elude their grasp in a heartbreaking 87-84 defeat at the hands of Catholic.
Jay Howard's three-point play with 0.5 seconds left handed the Cardinals the crown in their annual Holiday Inn College Park Classic, helping the hosts erase a 16-point second-half deficit with a 7-0 run over the final 1:48.
Senior Remi Janicot led five players in double figures for the Bears (5-5), who had given head coach Kevin Small his 250th career win with a 67-66 victory over Marymount (Va.) the previous night.
Janicot's bucket – on a feed from senior point guard Brian Rafferty, made it 84-80 in favor of the Bears with 1:48 remaining. But Rafferty fouled out on the next possession and Ursinus never scored again. Jimmy Golaszewski nailed a pair of free throws on each of Catholic's next two trips, and the Bears came up empty on their next time down the court.
Still, the game looked headed for overtime after a shot-clock violation with 2.4 seconds left. But the Bears was called for five seconds on the ensuing inbounds, and All-America candidate Howard made them pay with a drive that ended in a flying lay-up plus the foul with a half-second on the ticker.
Senior Zach Quattro and sophomore Ryan McTamney each netted 15 points for Ursinus, while junior Eric Williams Jr. and sophomore Shane Stark tallied 13 apiece. McTamney and Eric Williams were selected to the all-tournament team.
Howard led all scorers with 28 points and Golaszewski added 26 in a dominant two-man show for Catholic, which shot 55.0 percent (11 for 20) from the field and 83.3 percent at the line (20 of 24) after intermission. Howard and Golaszewski combined for 36 points on 8-for-10 shooting from the floor and a 17-of-19 mark from the stripe.
Neither side led by more than five in the first half of a see-saw battle that saw 13 lead changes and five ties, and Rafferty's buzzer-beating trey pulled Ursinus within 41-40 at the break. Trailing 43-42, McTamney's drive keyed a 23-6 spurt that ended with a jumper by junior Zack Muredda and a 65-49 advantage at the 12:16 mark.
Ursinus still led 77-67 with 5:38 to go, and Janicot did his part with the team's last seven points, but it wasn't enough to stave off the Cardinals.
The Bears made ten 3-pointers, held a 41-36 edge on the glass, and dished out 25 assists to just 11 turnovers, but a 14-for-23 performance at the line proved deadly. Catholic was 10 for 20 from long range and 23 of 28 on free throws.
Rafferty (seven assists) and Muredda (five) teamed up for 12 assists and just one miscue, while McTamney handed out four assists. Stark led the Bears with eight rebounds and swiped four steals.
The men's basketball team concludes 2017 – and non-conference play – with a trip to Rosemont on January 3.