By Jared Prenda
The men’s basketball team ended its early season struggles Wednesday with a win in its home opener. The Cardinals defeated the Bearcats of St. Vincent 79-74 in a closely-fought game at the DuFour Center, bringing their season record to 2-3 on the year.
The team was led by its veterans and new faces alike. Senior forward and perennial starter Jay Howard had a team high 20 points on 9-of-13 shooting with 6 rebounds. Junior guard Jimmy Golaszewski joined Howard with 20 points of his own on 4 treys and snatched 4 steals as well. The junior served as the team’s sixth man last year, but played all 40 minutes in the win. Classmate Andre Mitchell contributed 8 points, 3 boards, dished 3 assists and 2 steals.
The team got off to a slow start however, with Howard only seeing 6 minutes of action in the first half after recording 2 early fouls. As a result, the team was down by 2 points at the half, 37-35.
The Cards came out strong in the second half, hitting 17 of 27 shots and 4 of 5 from deep in the final 20 minutes. The team was still behind 61-60 with 8:30 remaining but a key jumper from Mitchell gave the Birds the lead. The two sides would trade baskets until the score was tied at 69 all, but a strong lay up from Howard gave CUA a lead they held on to for the rest of the game. Howard, Mitchell, and Golaszewski all combined for the team’s final 10 points, including a deep 3 from Golaszewski to expand the lead to 6.
The Catholic side had a strong showing in its debut in the newly renovated DuFour Center. The team shot 57.1% from the field and 55.6% from behind the arc. They also dominated the turnover battle, forcing 19 which they turned into 26 points. The Cards also outscored the Bearcats on the fast break 10-0, and dominated the battle in the paint with 48 second chance points off 28 boards.
The veterans of the team weren’t the only one contributing, however. Sophomore center Riley Hayes had a game high 7 boards, scored 16 with 2 steals and a block in his 30 minutes of play. Freshman point guard Isaiah Godwin scored 8 with 2 boards, 2 assists, a steal and a block. Both Hayes and Godwin started for the Cardinals.
Senior Billy Barnes played 23 minutes as a reserve and scored all 7 of CUA’s bench points. He also added 5 boards, 3 assists and 2 steals to the team’s efforts.
The team has had a rough start to its season, losing its only Landmark Conference matchup so far to Drew. The win over a strong 5-2 St. Vincent team looks to be the start of righting the course. Howard commented on the team’s mentality with its early struggles.
“We just have to keep taking it one game at a time,” Howard said. “Just keep finding ways to improve night in and night out, which starts in practice. I think if everyone gives their all and we play as a team we will be successful.”
The team looks for another win as they complete a 2-game homestand against the 4-3 Stevens College Ducks. The game will take place on Saturday, December 9th at 2 PM in the DuFour Center. Following this, the team will play out of conference as they travel to College Park to play the Division I University of Maryland Terrapins. The game is next Tuesday at the XFINITY Center on the UMD campus. Tickets for the game and a pregame event are available for sale on cuacardinals.com.