North Central Men Charge Past Chatham

More news about: North Central (Ill.)

It got started slowly out of the gate, but the North Central College men's basketball team closed with a flourish in its NCAA Division III Championship opener Friday evening. The Cardinals overwhelmed Chatham University (Pennsylvania) throughout the second half en route to a 77-48 victory at Gregory Arena.
North Central (23-5) wound up posting its largest margin of victory in tournament play, and did so despite a first half which saw it struggle to get untracked on the offensive end. The Cardinals outscored the Cougars, 53-23, after halftime while shooting nearly 60 percent from the floor in the final 20 minutes.
The victory sets up a second-round matchup on Saturday against Loras College (Iowa), a 75-64 winner over Albion College (Michigan) in Friday's other first-round game at North Central.
The Cardinals scored eight of the first 10 points of the game, limiting Chatham (19-10) to just two points in the first seven minutes. The Cougars then scored eight unanswered points in less than two minutes to take their first lead at 10-8. Inside baskets by Mike PollackWill Clausel and Connor Raridon came in succession to move the hosts back in front, and North Central held the lead until Chatham's Will Sandherr converted a layup in the final minute to send the Cougars into halftime with a 25-24 advantage. The Cardinals made just 10 of 31 field goals (32.3 percent) and 1 of 13 three-point shots in the opening half.
"I think our energy on defense was very good," North Central head coach Todd Raridon said of his team's play in the first half. "We were getting them to miss shots and keeping them to one shot on every possession, but we just weren't scoring on the other end. We were a team that was very selfish, I thought, and that's not us. In the second half, our defense was still really good, and guys made some open shots."
North Central pulled back in front just 14 seconds after play resumed, as Aaron Jones' three-pointer from the right corner found its mark. Connor Raridon followed with a pair of free throws and found Matt Cappelletti for a fast-break layup, then came up with a steal and score to increase the lead to 33-25 less than three minutes into the period. Raridon's driving layup with 14:00 to play gave the Cardinals their first double-digit lead at 40-29.
A 15-4 surge which spanned four minutes and included seven points from Clausel helped widen the gap to 61-37 and essentially put the contest out of reach. The Cardinals' lead swelled to as large as 34 points down the stretch.
North Central made 18 of 31 shots from the floor (58.1 percent) after halftime and owned a 44-36 rebounding advantage while turning the ball over only four times. With six made three-pointers in the game, the Cardinals have made 250 shots from beyond the arc this season, breaking the single-season school record of 244 set in the 2017-2018 campaign.
Raridon led the Cardinals with 18 points and four assists despite playing just 25 minutes after missing a significant portion of the first half due to foul trouble. Clausel narrowly missed a career high in scoring with 14 points on a perfect 6 of 6 shooting, while Cappelletti contributed a game-high 11 rebounds and three blocked shots.
Chatham, which was making its first appearance in an NCAA Tournament in any team sport, was led by Sandherr's 16 points, while Shawn Erceg came off the bench to grab 12 rebounds.
North Central will take on Loras (22-6) at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday at Gregory Arena. Ticket sales will open at 5:30 p.m. and the game will be broadcast live on Naperville Community Television, Channel 17 and