After Anna Whelan's layup squared the game at 50, East tightened up on defense and 3s by Liz Romeo and McDowell quickly pushed the lead back to six points. It reached seven before Gallian hit a 3 with under a minute to go to make the score 59-55.
Down the stretch, East went just 3 for 7 from the foul line, but rode McDowell and Justice's strategy to the win.
"It's just not playing," Justice said, referring to rustiness due to games postponed by weather. "We let so many balls go and they thought we'd come in here and just get a win and go on down the road, and [Catholic] played well.
"We shot well and I feel like I pulled every trick I knew in the book and they were still right there. They're a good team, they played well."
The Irish were indeed sharp for most of the game, but a long stretch in the second quarter was ultimately Catholic's demise.
The Spartans shot a blistering 7 for 9 while the Irish were just 1 for 15 and didn't score a point until Whelan hit a free throw at the 2:49 mark. At that point, East's 12-0 run had given the Spartans a 10-point advantage.
"In the second quarter they got after us a little bit," Bogan said. "They turned up the pressure on us and got to us a little bit and took us out of our offense. Our defense faltered a little bit, got into some foul trouble, so it took us out of our transition opportunities, which is where we hurt them early.
"They wouldn't miss. Some of them were open but they hit a lot of contested 3s, deep 3s, and you kind of tip your hat to them."
McDowell finished with a game-high 24 points with Sydney Nunley adding 15 points and 19 rebounds and Romeo 14 points.
Imani led Catholic with 17 points and 10 rebounds while Whelan contributed 15 points and five assists and Gallian 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, ryan.pr...@wvgazette.com, or follow him at twitter.com/RPritt.