By Jimmy Cassidy
After a difficult first twenty minutes, the men’s basketball team at The Catholic University of America showed resilience to come back and beat the Drew University Rangers in a Landmark Conference matchup on Saturday, January 9th. Catholic struggled to deal with a hot-shooting visiting team at the Raymond A. DuFour Center in the first half, but came out on top with a strong defensive effort after halftime. The victory was CUA’s eighth out of their last nine games, and it extended their Landmark win streak to three. The Cardinals now have an overall record of 11-4 and a conference mark of 4-2. The loss moves the Rangers to 7-7 overall and 4-3 in the Landmark.
It was definitely a tale of two halves for the Cardinals. The shots were falling for the away team and the hosts did not share in the success. Three different players from the starting five for Drew knocked down three 3-pointers, as the team made 9 of their 18 attempts from behind the arc. On the whole, Drew shot 15-32 (47%) from the field and the solid shooting kept them ahead of Catholic. CUA’s leading scorer, sophomore forward Jay Howard received his second foul early in the half to put him on the bench with foul trouble. The two teams headed into their respective locker rooms with scoreboard showing 44-38 in the Rangers’ favor.
What must have been an inspiring halftime speech brought the Cardinals back out on to the floor with a different mindset. Catholic’s defensive unit did not let Drew enjoy the same success in the second half. The Cardinals limited the Rangers to just 4 baskets in the entire half on 26 attempts. Not one of those four baskets came from behind the three point line, as the visitors shot 0-9 from downtown. After a 44 point first half, Catholic held Drew to just 20 points. Meanwhile, the Cardinals’ offense stayed the course and pushed ahead.
Senior guard Bryson Fonville almost had himself a triple-double in leading the team on the offensive end. Fonville dropped 23 points on 9-15 shooting, and added 9 rebounds and 9 assists. Junior forward Corey Stanford made four of his eight 3-pointers, and ended up with 21 points as well as 10 rebounds in his fourth double-double effort of the season. Howard was limited to 24 minutes on the evening but contributed 12 points as well. Senior center Austin Calling was a force in the paint in his 23 minutes off the bench, as he chipped in 6 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks. The Cardinals outscored Drew 43-20 in the second half and got themselves a comfortable 81-64 win.
The victory over Drew was their third in just five days, and the team has enjoyed a week break from games since. The rest will hopefully aid them as they will square off against the University of Scranton Royals in an important Landmark Conference showdown. The Royals boast an equal 11-4 record as the Cardinals, and a win would give either team important momentum in the playoff race. Catholic takes on their rival Scranton tomorrow, Saturday, January 16th in Scranton at 2 PM.