By Jared Prenda
Catholic University’s men’s basketball team is now winners in 4 of its last 5 outings as the Cardinals pulled out two strong conference victories this past week. These wins moved the squad up to second place in the Landmark Conference, and advanced Catholic’s record to 11-7 overall and 5-2 in conference play. The team easily handled its rival Scranton at home on Saturday, January 20th in a 76-52 victory. The Cards then put on a stellar defensive performance to defeat Susquehanna 73-55 on the road this past Wednesday, January 24th.
Catholic dominated Scranton from the opening tip-off, taking a swift 14-5 lead in the first few minutes. The scoring was kicked off by Scranton who hit a short-range jumper on the game’s first basket, but junior guard Andre Mitchell answered immediately with a 3-pointer and the Cards never looked back. The team would go on to take a 20-point lead at the half, 37-17.
The three-headed monster of senior Jay Howard, junior Jimmy Golaszewski, and sophomore Riley Hayes lead the way for the Cards in their win over Scranton. Howard posted a game-high 26 points and a team-high 8 boards in his performance. Hayes match Howard with 8 rebounds and finished second on the team with 15 points. He also led the defensive charge with 3 blocks and 2 steals. Golaszewski scored 12 points and grabbed 7 boards in the effort.
CUA hit 7 more shots than Scranton, and shot 79% from the line, as it built its lead to the widest margin of 27 with only one minute left to play. The Cards also outrebounded Scranton 46-32.
The Catholic team overwhelmed both of its opponents with tenacious defense in the matchups. CUA only allowed Scranton to hit 5 field goals in the first half of their game and held the Royals to only 32% shooting from the field and 28% from deep. The River Hawks did not fare much better against Coach Steve Howes half court press, shooting marginally better with 33/23 splits.
Despite this defensive proficiency, the matchup against a much worse Susquehanna team (6-11, 3-4) was a different story for the Birds. The team was lead in scoring by Mitchell with 18, who went 6-7 from the field and a perfect 4-4 from deep. He also posted 5 assists and 4 steals in the game. Hayes and freshman Justin Pryor each scored 11 in the game, while the team’s top two scorers, Howard and Golaszewski, combined for only 14 points.
Despite this one poor performance, Howard has still capitalized in his senior season by becoming the Landmark Conference’s all-time leading scorer this past week. Howard now has 1,925 career points and only needs 75 more to become only the 3rd player in program history to reach 2,000. Beyond this, Howard earned his 4th Landmark Conference Honor of the season when he was named Conference Athlete of the week following Saturday’s game, and has averaged 23/7/2 on the season in the power forward position.
The Cards next game will be this Saturday, January 27th on the road against potential playoff rival Juniata. CUA came out on top over the then 23rd nationally-ranked Eagles 82-70. CUA will need its stars to produce if they wish to prevail once again and they must continue their defensive dominance against a team shooting 52/37 splits on the year and only turning the ball over 14 times a game.