Saturday night showdown pits No. 9 CUA vs. Merchant Marine Academy

WASHINGTON - Winners of six straight, the No. 9 Cardinals welcome Landmark Conference foe Merchant Marine Academy to the DuFour Center on Saturday evening.  CUA was last in action on Monday when the Cards pulled away from Washington College for a 79-63 win.  Shawn Holmes dropped in 23 points, while as a team CUA handed out a season-best 23 assists on 27 made field goals.  Last week, CUA won its own holiday tournament, thanks in large part to tournament MVP Steve Limberiou’s sharp shooting.

The Cardinals and Mariners are meeting for the 20th time on Saturday, with CUA holding a slim 10-9 advantage.  The teams split their two meetings last season, with the road team coming out on top in both games.  In USMMA’s last trip to Washington, CUA pulled out a hard-fought 66-64 win on February 12, 2011.

CUA is one of only seven Division III schools in the country with both its women’s and men’s teams nationally ranked.  The CUA men enter this weekend with a national ranking of No. 9 in the D3Hoops.com poll.  The women are ranked 20th in the D3Hoops.com poll and 21st in the USA Today poll.  The two teams are a combined 22-1.

After hitting on only 36% of their 3-point attempts last season, the Cardinals are shooting 41% through 12 games this season.  CUA shot at least 40% in 14 games last season, but only five times in the final 16 games.  This season, CUA has shot at least 40% eight times, including six straight.

CUA leads the Landmark Conference in assists, averaging 15.8 per game.  The Cardinals have totaled double-digit helpers in every game, with a high of 23 vs. Denison and Washington College.

Senior Chris Kearney tied his career high with seven blocks in CUA’s win over Gallaudet on December 15.  The Virginia native enters Saturday with 181 career blocks, including a team-high 30 this season.  Kearney ranks third in CUA history behind Jason Alexander (283) and Matt Hilleary (273).

Saturday’s game features the top two teams in terms of rebound margin in the Landmark Conference.  USMMA pulls down 6.2 more boards than its opponent, with CUA next in line at 5.6.  The Cardinals have outrebounded 10 opponents, with a high of +16 in two games.

Merchant Marine Academy enters the weekend riding a two-game win streak and having won five of its last six.  The Mariners were last in action on Wednesday, when they defeated Trinity on the road 66-58.  Reed Buck, last year’s Landmark Conference Player of the Year, leads USMMA in scoring at 19.2 points per game, while Andrew Williams averages 10 points. The Mariners are 3-3 on the road thus far, including 1-1 in the conference.

For more information on Saturday’s conference matchup, check out the CUA game notes.

Saturday’s game will tip-off at 6 p.m. from inside the DuFour Center.  All of the action will be shown live on cuacardinals.com.

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