January 14th’s Men’s Basketball game against the Moravian College Greyhounds was one for the ages. The Cardinals entered the game as the number one ranked team in the Landmark Conference, and a perfect 3-0 in conference play, and 11-3 overall. The Greyhounds entered the matchup in 3rd place for the conference, with a 2-1 record entering the game.
The first few minutes of the opening half would prove to be an early indicator of how tightly fought the game would be, with neither teams scoring due to tenacious defense on both sides. The Cardinals would be the ones to break the stalemate on a short jump shot from junior forward Jay Howard. Both squads would continue to play hard with neither side gaining a clear advantage until the closing minutes of the half. Moravian went on a scoring run to gain a 13-point advantage of 38-25 with less than four minutes left in the half. The Cardinals then went on a 10-point scoring run at the end of the half which allowed the Cards to carry the momentum into half.
One of the key players for Catholic was junior forward Jay Howard, who dominated in the game with his 5th double-double of the year. The starter led the game-high 13 rebounds, and a team leading 26 points. When Howard was asked about how the team rallied together to get back into the game after playing an unimpressive first half, only going 10-29 on field goal attempts.
“We knew we didn’t play our best basketball the whole first half so we knew we would have to be tough and out hustle the other team. My teammates and I really believed in each other and for it to only a one possession game at half with the amount of shots we missed says a lot about my team.”
The second half of the game turned out to be a much different story for the birds as both teams fought to gain a clear advantage in a game that saw 8 lead changes and 13 ties. Catholic managed to hold on to the lead for much of the second half, but a tight full court press from the Greyhounds never allowed for the Cardinals to expand their lead past 6 points.
The game looked all but over with 5 seconds remaining in the game until the Moravian forced a turnover that allowed for sophomore guard Jimmy Murray to tie the game on a breakaway layup. The Cardinals almost managed to beat the buzzer to win on a floater from senior Louis Khouri that bounced around the rim before falling out, leaving the game tied at 79-79.
Khouri also contributed to the cause, with his 20-point performance allowing him and Howard to combine for 46 of Catholic’s 89 points. Khouri also came up with 8 rebounds for the birds, falling just short of his own double-double.
The final 5-minute overtime proved to be just as tightly contested as the rest of the game, with neither team gaining a clear advantage until the final moments of the game when Catholic took a 3-point lead. Howard and Khouri both took over the game for the Cards as they combined for 8 of the 10 points scored by the team in the period, including Khouri’s last second steal and layup that sealed the 89-84 victory.
Howard also commented on how the team not only braces for overtime following such a tough game, and how the team moves on for the next one.
“Going into overtime we just wanted it, we knew it was going to be a tough game playing a very good opponent, but every single one of my teammates wanted this game and it was great to see how much we matured as a team over the course of the season. It was a very great game to be a part of but now we understand it is in the past and we’re going to get ready to suit back up Wednesday.”
The 89-84 victory keeps the Catholic team at a perfect 4-0 in Landmark Conference play, and 12-3 overall record. This victory kept the Birds in 1st for the Landmark Conference, and the frontrunners for the favorites in the upcoming playoffs. the Cardinals look to defend their top ranking this Saturday at Scranton University on Saturday, January 21st.