By Jimmy Cassidy
It all came together for the men’s basketball team at Catholic University in an 80-56 victory over St. Vincent College on Monday, December 7th. In front of a supportive crowd at the Raymond A. DuFour Center, the Cardinals shut down a strong opponent to win their second consecutive game. The win moves the team to 5-3 on the year, while the loss moves the Wildcats’ record to 4-2.
The 24 point margin in the victory for Catholic was due largely in part to a very impressive defensive performance. Coming into the game, the Cardinal defense had been giving up an average of 79 points per contest. The team held St. Vincent to a season-low 56 points on 35% shooting (17-48) and forced 16 turnovers in the game. Offensive statistics from the home team told a very different story, as Catholic shot 55% from the field on 28-51 shooting.
“We looked a lot like we did at the end of last season tonight,” said head coach Steve Howes. “That was a very good win for us; one that we needed. We showed our depth tonight and played hard.”
Leading the way on the offensive end for the Cardinals was senior guard Kyle Phanord, whose six made shot attempts all came from behind the three-point line. Phanord’s 6-9 shooting from behind the arc gave him a team-high 18 points on the evening. Fellow senior guard Bryson Fonville and sophomore forward Jay Howard followed close behind as they each added 16 points of their own. Fonville scored 14 of those points in the first twenty minute half, and Howard chose the second half as his own as he scored 14 on 4-4 shooting. In total, eleven Catholic players put points on the board to contribute to the 80 point output in the win.
Phanord delivered praise for the team’s defensive effort after the win.
“We were really active defensively which started with our ball pressure, active hands, and energy from the players off the bench. We were all finally communicating with each other,” Phanord said.
The Cardinals led in the contest from start to finish, and their largest lead came with 14 minutes in the second half when it was 58-31. They dominated the game down low, as they outscored Wildcats 28-6 on points in the paint. A 44-25 lead at halftime lasted into the second twenty minutes of the game, allowing 15 Cardinals to get some time on the court. Fresh legs and new faces allowed coach Howes to keep the pressure on for all forty minutes, and the team recorded seven steals as they pressed St. Vincent all evening.
Sophomore guard Billy Barnes was one of the players in the rotation and also scored in the game.
“You never know what the game is going to give you,” Barnes said after the game. “Having a talented bench that can be relied on to make contributions like it did against St. Vincent is big for us as we move forward.”
Catholic maintained its 19 point halftime lead, and built on it as the second half progressed. A threatening run to get back into the game never really came from St. Vincent, and the Cardinals cruised to an 80-56 win. CUA will be back in action today, Friday, December 11th, on the road against Dickinson at 7 PM. After the game, the team will enjoy a bit of a break from play until returning to the home court on Tuesday, December 29th to host Waynesburg University at 5 PM.