The #5 ranked Cardozo Judges had run up an impressive record of thirteen straight wins without a loss but have always been knocked for the lack of caliber competition.
On Saturday during the 2nd game of the B.A.B. Invitational at Baruch College, Cardozo (14-0) would get their first real test and pass. In a neck and neck battle with Patterson (MD), Dozo would pull out a 62-61 win.
"I found out that [Patterson] is one of the top teams in Baltimore," said Cardozo head coach Ron Naclerio who admitted that this game was the toughest challenge for his team this season.
Patterson would come out with a fury as their diminutive 5'7" sophomore point guard, Aquille Carr (34 points, 4 assists) would give them a 16-12 lead going into the second quarter.
The Judges would gather themselves as Shelton Mickell (19 points) would tie the game at 16 with 6:45 remaining in the half. Sophomore sensation, Jermaine Lawrence (10 points, 18 rebounds) would soon give Cardozo their first lead but with 5:12 on the clock but Carr would once again put the Maryland squad up by 4 point.
Carr kept Patterson ahead for almost the second quarter as offensive rebounds afforded them multiple opportunities to score. Buckets by 6'5" junior forward, Ta'Jay Henry (7 points, 4 rebounds) and senior PG Chris Gayot (9 points, 3 assists) would keep Dozo close but it looked as if the Queens, NY team would remain down at the half. That is until a buzzer beating dunk by Lawrence gave the Judges an unexpected 32-31 advantage going into the locker room.
Patterson would retake their lead as 6'3" senior guard Rickey Meekins (6 points, 7 rebounds) scored early. 6'5" senior Tyrel Hunt (14 points, 10 rebounds)) countered for the Judges, sparking a 10-1 run. With 2:13 left in the third, Lawrence would increase Cardozo's lead to 9 points as transition point came frequently.
Down 47-40 as the fourth quarter kicked off, Dozo again extended their lead to 8 points but then Carr began to push the pace. "That kid [Carr] has an overdrive that's ridiculous," said Coach Naclerio.
Quick fast break points and basket plus the foul-shot by Myrek Lee-Fowlkes (9 points, 6 rebounds) and the Judges lead was reduced to 3 points with 5:06 left in regulation. With Patterson Initiating a full court press, Coach Naclerio was forced to call a timeout with 1:50 remaining. A charging foul on Lawrence led to Carr cutting the lead to 61-60 with 31 seconds. Carr would then intercept a Dozo pass in mid-air and draw a foul. Going one of two from the line, the score would be tied at 61 with 19.7 seconds.
With 6.7 seconds remaining, 6'7" senior forward Marquis Barnett (3 points, 9 rebounds), not known as a solid free-throw shooter, would draw a foul, hit the first but miss the second free-throw. Unable to get a shot off in time, Patterson would go down by one to the Judges.
Asked about his thoughts while taking the winning foul-shots, Barnett said, "I was nervous but I stayed in my routine." Naclerio, however, would divulge a conversation that he had after the game that shocked the Judges coach. "Ya know, [Barnett] told me he missed the second shot on purpose," Naclerio said. "He thought if he hit the second foul shot that [Carr] would get the ball, get fouled [and score]."