St. Viator made the long trip to Chicago Heights on Friday to take on state-ranked and conference-rival Marian Catholic.
Unfortunately for the Lions, they seem to have left their game back in Arlington Heights as St. Viator fell 72-56.
"We just weren't tough enough," said a frustrated St. Viator coach Mike Howland, who sat his starters down for the final 2½ minutes. "We just didn't do the little things to get wins on the road against a good team. It became very evident as the game went along."
Marian Catholic (12-1, 2-0) led 31-29 after the first half, which featured 8 ties and 10 lead changes.
With St. Viator leading 19-18 with 5:16 left in the first half, Marian scored the next 7 points to lead 25-19 with 3:22 left in the half.
The Lions responded by going long distance. Roosevelt Smart nailed a 3 after a Marian basket, and Patrick McNamara drilled a 3 to spark a 7-0 run by Viator to put them up 29-27.
Marian scored the last 4 points of the first half and the first 4 of the second half to forge ahead 35-31.
But the Jekyll-and-Hyde Lions rallied to tie the game at 37 on a basket by McNamara (7 points) with 5:01 left in the third quarter.
The Lions kept Marian guard Tyler Ulis from dominating play as St. Viator was able to pull ahead 45-42 with 1:51 left in the third quarter.
But that's when the Kentucky-bound Ulis took over.
The point guard, who had just 6 points and 4 assists at that point in the game, doubled his assists, hit a basket and 2 free throws in the Spartans' next 6 possessions as Marian ran off 8 unanswered points on their way to a 16-2 run and a 58-47 lead with 5:17 to play.
"We tried to go one on one on the offensive end," Howland said. "And I think it is a bad idea to try to go one on one with Tyler Ulis. We learned that tonight."
Drake-bound Ore Arogundade, who finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds, was disappointed with how he and his teammates played.
"Ulis can impact the game is so many ways," Arogundade said. "We didn't come out ready to play tonight. We just couldn't get things going."
Smart added 11 points but just scored 2 points in the second half for the Lions, who turned the ball over 16 times and were 3-of-15 from outside the arc.
Ulis finished with 16 points and 9 rebounds for the Spartans, who were led by Terrone Parham with 20 points.
The only high point for the Lions (11-3, 2-1) was the return to the lineup of Mark Falotico.
The senior point guard, who started last year for the Lions had been sidelined all season with a broken foot, got back into the lineup in the second quarter. Falotico came into the game in the first quarter and played sparingly, scoring 6 points, including a 3-pointer.
"It was really nice to be back out there," Falotico said. "It was exciting -- big game for my first game back. But I was obviously disappointed we lost. Hopefully we can turn things around tomorrow."
St. Viator won't have to wait long to play another top team. The Lions are back in action Saturday night at home at 7 p.m. against Hinsdale Central in make up of game that was cancelled Tuesday.
"We will see who shows up," Howland said. "I didn't like our response in the second half and hopefully we can get a better response tomorrow."
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