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Brother Rice prepared this week as though Fenwick was at full strength heading into its Catholic League contest Friday night. But that did not turn out to be the case at tipoff.
The Friars played last week without 6-foot-8 starting center Daniel Dwyer, who is recovering from an injury to his right foot. Dwyer was in street clothes for the game at Rice and his foot remained in walking boot. But Fenwick suffered a double whammy when leading scorer Luke Lattner could not play due an illness.
“I knew Daniel Dwyer was hurt. He did not play when we scouted them (against St. Francis de Sales)” Rice coach Pat Richardson. “I only knew about Luke Lattner when they go here. He’s a great player. That hurt them a lot.”
Without Lattner and Dwyer, short-handed Fenwick scored its lowest total of the season as Rice cruised 58-34 to win its fifth consecutive game. Alex Majewski (seven rebounds), a 6-7 senior, did not have Dwyer to deal with as a defender and scored a game-high 21 points for the Crusaders (7-1, 3-0).
Without two key starters, a leading scorer and top post player, the rest of Fenwick’s starters combined to score 13 points in the game. Rice limited Fenwick (5-2, 1-2) to 13 points in the second half and just four points, including one basket in the final quarter.
“That hurt them,” Majewski said of Dwyer and Lattner. “That definitely helped us a little bit. We were able to get the ball more inside, and our guys were able to go outside.”
The Crusaders took control after halftime despite leading 32-21 at the break. After Joshua Carlisle (seven points) started the second half with a free throw, Rice answered with a 14-3 run. The run concluded when the Friars’ Scott Lindsey was charged with a technical foul. That allowed Jim Barista (14 points) to add two more foul shots for a 46-24 lead.
Freshman Michael Smith led the Friars with 11 points. Smith led Fenwick in scoring for the first time in his career. Lattner has scored at least 15 points in each of the Friars’ last four games. He had 18 in a 61-44 win over de Sales Dec. 7.
“It was a big struggle,” Smith said. “We didn’t have our captain (Lattner) because he was sick. It was a tough game.”
Smith ignited the Friars with seven points in the second quarter as the Fenwick bench scored nine of the Friars’ 11 points in the quarter.
“I like a lot of things (we’re doing),” Richardson said. “I think we are a talented team. Our offense is executing poorly. I think we can be great.”
Fenwick coach Pat Quinn said he expects Dwyer to return for the team’s next game Dec. 21 against Providence at home. Dwyer suffered a hairline fracture in his right toe from a household injury earlier this month and has missed only two games.
“We’ve got to get healthier,” Quinn said. “The whole team, physically. I imagine most schools are battling with the flu.”