By Jimmy Cassidy
With wins over conference opponents Elizabethtown and Moravian in the past week, the midseason run of the men’s basketball team at Catholic University continues. Perhaps the most impressive victory of the Cardinals’ modest three game streak was the first one, against the nationally-ranked Susquehanna University Crusaders. The 12th-ranked Crusaders boasted an overall record of 16-1 with a comfortable lead over the rest of the Landmark Conference as they entered the Raymond A. DuFour Center on Wednesday, January 27th. They were outplayed by a hot-shooting home team that badly needed a statement win to keep their title hopes alive. Catholic led wire to wire in forty minutes of play and took down Susquehanna, 101-80.
The Cardinals delivered one of their best team performances of the season to defeat the Crusaders, and it was largely due in part to proficient shooting. Catholic lit it up from behind the arc, shooting 13-24 (54%) from 3-point range. In their second triple digit output of the season, they made 40 shots in total, going an astounding 60% overall from the field. In an impressive first half in which CUA led by as many as 16, Susquehanna made a late run to bring the deficit manageable before halftime at 46-40.
A big win usually needs a big performance from the team’s leaders. Bryson Fonville definitely came to play. The senior All-American amassed 32 points in an effort that included four 3-pointers and 7 assists. He shot 13-23 from the field and controlled the tempo of the contest all night long. Sophomore forward Jay Howard benefited from his point guard’s work, and also displayed his own skill in a 22 point effort. In 38 minutes of play, Howard shot 8-11 from the field and missed just one of his seven free throw attempts. Junior Corey Stanford made his mark on the scorebook as well, adding 15 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists in the game.
Although the Crusaders looked as if they were threatening at the end of the first half, the momentum was quickly flipped as Catholic started the second stanza with a 15-8 run. CUA’s defense played well enough to keep the efficient Crusaders at bay on offense, causing 12 turnovers. The visitors could not climb back into the contest, mostly because the impressive shooting from the Cardinals in the first half was no fluke. Catholic’s shooting percentage was just under 70% in the final twenty minutes, and the lead ballooned to 20 with two minutes left to play. A 55 point performance put them past 100 points for the first time since the 101-67 rout of Elizabethtown on January 5th. A layup from Howard with under a minute to play would be the final basket of the contest, and the game ended at 101-80.
Winners of 12 of their last 14, Catholic now sits at 15-5 on the season. Their current position in the top-heavy Landmark Conference standings suggest they will again make an appearance in the conference playoff tournament. With 5 teams all separated by less than two games in the standings, each game will be crucial down the stretch. The Cardinals will travel to Madison, New Jersey to take on the Drew University Rangers tomorrow, Saturday, February 6th in a Landmark matchup. They return home to host Goucher on Wednesday, February 10th at 7 PM.