By Jared Prenda
The Catholic University of America men’s basketball team managed to keep their playoff hopes alive following a dominant 66-54 victory over Goucher College. The Wednesday, February 1st victory keeps the Cardinals at a 6-3 record in Landmark Conference play, and to 14-6 overall. The conference victory keeps the CUA squad only one game out of first place with the post-season rapidly approaching.
The Cards jumped out to an immediate advantage over the Gophers, and never trailed throughout the entire game. The first half was pure domination for the Cardinals, thanks to a tight defensive effort that allowed the fewest points all season. The team entered halftime with a 20 point, 35-15 lead, which was capitalized by a layup as time expired by junior forward, Jay Howard.
The team was lead in their efforts by starting senior guard Louis Khouri, who recorded a double-double on the night. The Alexandria, Virginia native also held game highs with 19 points, 10 rebounds, 3 treys, and 6 free throws. Khouri was only one of three double digit scorers, as Howard notched 14 points and 7 rebounds in the game. Freshman starter, Brandon Easton, added 11 points, 5 rebounds, and snagged a steal in the effort.
The game held the appearance of a blow-out as play resumed after the break, but the Gophers unleashed a 25-8 onslaught to open the half and pull within 3 of the Cards. The Catholic squad managed to hold off the Gopher attack, and a three from Khouri swung the momentum back into the Cards’ favor. This crucial bucket started an 8-0 run for CUA to close out the game and seal the 12-point victory.
The team showed real grit in their performance on the night, by not only holding off a comeback but also by displaying a tenacious defense. The team’s effort held Goucher to only shooting 31-percent from the field, and notching 8 steals. Despite giving up a large lead, the Cardinals made the difference on the free throw line with 11 more points than their opponent, and a 7-rebound advantage.
The crucial victory came just in time for Catholic, who had previously dropped 3 straight conference games with the Landmark Conference playoffs looming at the end of the month. The Cardinals look to use this as a shift in momentum in their season, especially with the bulk of their remaining games being against strong opponents. The players understand this significance and look at each game like it is their last.
“I think we all played very hard, we understand that every game in conference really matters so we try to approach every game in that way,” says Howard. “It just so happens we lost three games straight prior to beating Goucher, so beating a quality opponent was a great way to bounce back.”
The 3rd seeded Catholic team looks to finish strong with only 5 games remaining in the season before the start of the playoffs. The team returns to action on the road against the Drew Rangers on February 4th, 2017. The Drew team is only 1 game behind the Cards with a 5-4 record, and will play with tenacity to steal a playoff spot of their own. The Cardinals look to carry the 66-54 victory over Goucher with them and prepare for the post season.
An earlier version of this story mistook Louis Khouri’s name, we apologize for the mistake.