LOUISVILLE _ It was one of those sequences where the momentum swings like a giant pendulum.
Early in the fourth period, with Kent Roosevelt on the verge of completely erasing a 16-point deficit, senior point guard Matt Kane drove downcourt on the fastbreak.
Kane went up for the game-tying layup, softly flipping the basketball toward the hoop. It hit the rim, appeared on the verge of falling through the net _ then spun out.
St. Thomas Aquinas came away with the rebound, pushed the ball up the floor, and Kane was whistled for his fourth foul at the other end, forcing him to the bench.
The host Knights promptly built their lead to five, pushed it out to nine by the time Kane returned with 3:13 left, and held off the Rough Riders at the foul line down the stretch for a 72-64 non-conference victory Tuesday night.
"That was a big, big jump right there," said Roosevelt coach Tom Larkin, whose team fell to 3-9 on the season while Aquinas improved to 5-7. "We go from (potentially) having a tie game with Kane still on the floor, to being down four or five and having to pull Kane out. There are no secrets _ we're not the same team with Kane on the bench."
That episode epitomized a night of frustration for the Rough Riders who, with the exception of senior Troy Burrell, couldn't pry the lid off the basket.
While Burrell had his silky smooth jumper falling to the tune of a game-high 24 points, his teammates simply couldn't buy a basket. The Rough Riders shot just 9-of-29 in the first half _ including an arctic 7-of-21 in the paint _ as Aquinas built a 32-22 advantage at the half.
Roosevelt improved to 13-of-22 from the floor in the second half, but couldn't recover entirely from its first-half shooting woes.
"We were getting decent looks in the paint but we weren't finishing shots," said Larkin. "We threw up a couple unbalanced shots, we had a lack of mental concentration, and No. 32 (6-foot-4 junior Makedo Wisseh) did a good job of blocking or altering some of our shots."
Wisseh, plagued with foul trouble throughout the contest, finished with 13 points. Senior guard Shawn Weingart led the Knights with 19 points, senior Jake Evans came off the bench for Wisseh and contributed 14 points, and junior point guard Joe Pavlick finished with 10.
For the Rough Riders, Burrell was supported by 20 points from sophomore Ernie Cobbin while Kane ended up with 11.
The Knights outscored Roosevelt 8-2 to start the second half and took a 40-24 lead, forcing the Rough Riders to call a timeout with 6:26 left in the third.
After the break, Roosevelt responded by quickly scoring the next 10 points _ six by Burrell and four by Cobbin _ to get back in the game and trail by just 49-43 after three quarters.
Kane and Burrell each converted baskets to start the fourth to pull the Rough Riders within 49-47, setting up the game's pivotal sequence. Then, with Kane on the bench with four fouls, the Knights went on a 9-2 run to lead 58-49 by the time he returned with 3:13 to go.
Aquinas sank 10 free throws in the final minute and a half to seal the victory.
"We weren't taking care of the ball and Aquinas is a good, solid basketball team _ a lot like the teams in our conference," said Larkin. "They don't make many mistakes and they take care of the ball. They got a lot of good looks in the paint and did a good job of taking advantage of it. They just pounded it inside on us all night."
St. Thomas Aquinas 72, Kent Roosevelt 64
(At St. Thomas Aquinas)
KENT ROOSEVELT (64) _ Matt Kane 5 0-0 11; Mike Byler 2 1-2 5; Troy Burrell 11 0-0 24; Ernie Cobbin 8 3-4 20; Jason Coleman 0 0-2 0; Sam Moore 0 0-0 0; Joe Hostler 1 2-2 4. Totals 27 6-10 64.
ST. THOMAS AQUINAS (72) _ Joe Pavlick 2 6-12 10; Brandon Blood 1 2-2 4; Joe McClellan 3 0-0 7; Shawn Weingart 6 6-8 19; Makedo Wisseh 6 1-2 13; Kevin Tscholl 2 1-1 5; Jake Evans 6 2-2 14; Bart Shadle 0 0-0 0. Totals 26 18-27 72.
KENT ROOSEVELT 13 9 21 21 _ 64
ST. THOMAS AQUINAS 14 18 17 23 _ 72
Three-point goals _ Kent Roosevelt (4-11): Kane 1-4; Burrell 2-4; Cobbin 1-1; Moore 0-2. St. Thomas Aquinas (2-17): Pavlick 0-4; Blood 0-1; McClellan 1-3; Weingart 1-7; Tscholl 0-1; Shadle 0-1.
Total Fouls _ Kent Roosevelt, 23-13.
Total Rebounds _ Kent Roosevelt, 34-31.
Total Turnovers _ Kent Roosevelt, 18-16.
JV Score _ St. Thomas Aquinas, 53-46. Leading scorers: (STA) Andy Donaldson, 16 points; (KR) Israel Victor, Colin Gentry, 14 points each.