By Chris McManes
When Catholic University needed a big bucket, Steve Limberiou stepped up. Or should that be stepped back.
Limberiou nailed a 3-pointer to stem a furious rally by host Westminster and finished with a career-high 33 points to lead the Cardinals to an 85-73 victory in the Buzz Ridl Classic on Friday. It was the season opener for both teams.
Limberiou's heroics, at Buzz Ridl Gymnasium in New Wilmington, Pa., gave CUA some breathing room after the Titans had cut a 15-point halftime deficit to one. The junior from nearby Pittsburgh responded with a trey to put the Cards on top, 75-71, with 4:18 to play. He hit another one 55 second later to stretch the CUA lead to seven.
Sophomore point guard Bryson Fonville scored 14 points and had six rebounds and six assists. Corey Stanford, who also hails from the Steel City area (Harrison City, Pa.), totaled eight points and nine boards in his college debut. Kyle Phanord chipped in six points, five rebounds and five assists.
Limberiou, who scored 26 points on 6 of 9 shooting from 3-point range in the second round of the NCAA Tournament last year at Williams, hit his first five from long range Friday as the Cardinals took a 44-29 lead into halftime. He finished 10 of 23 from the field, including 8 of 13 on 3s, and sank 5 of 6 free throws.
Reserve forward Riley Kirsch collected a personal-best 12 rebounds in 17 minutes. Limberiou added 11 rebounds for his fifth career double-double.
Jason Pilarski came off the bench to score 23 points for Westminster, which hit 12 treys. His triple – one of his team's 12 – with 4:47 to go pulled the Titans to within 72-71. Anthony Thomas tallied 16 points, six boards and six assists.
Limberiou's previous career high was 29 points at Susquehanna on Feb. 6, 2013.
CUA plays Thiel on Saturday at 2 p.m. Lynchburg (Va.) will meet Westminster at 4. Opponents were determined beforehand in the non-tournament format.