By Chris McManes
WASHINGTON – When a coach loses two All-Conference players, including one who is now starting for a pro team in Europe, he needs new guys to step up and perform at a high level.
Austin Calling and Kyle Phanord are doing just that. Calling posted the first double-double of his career with 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Phanord scored a career-high 17 points in Catholic University's 82-60 victory over Drew University on Saturday.
The Cardinals improved to 4-2 overall; the Rangers fell to 3-3.
Played on Franny Murray Court at the Raymond A. DuFour Center, it was the Landmark Conference opener for both teams.
Phanord, a sophomore who has stepped in for the departed Shawn Holmes at shooting guard, was on fire from the outside, hitting a personal-best five 3-pointers. Steve Limberiou tallied 13 points and sophomore Bryson Fonville 12. Rookie forward Corey Stanford posted personal highs of 11 rebounds and six assists.
Mike Klinger was the only Drew player to score in double figures with 14. Chris Capelli and Kevin-Michael Miller had nine points apiece.
Calling, a 6-foot-6, 190- pound sophomore post player, has helped CUA Coach Steve Howes fill the void left by the graduation of Landmark Conference Player and Defensive Player of the Year Chris Kearney, who now starts for Basket Globalcaja Quintanar in Quintanar del Rey, Spain.
Calling had recorded season highs of eight points and seven rebounds Wednesday at Division I Loyola (Md.).
The Cardinals jumped all over Drew right out of the gate, using a 19-2 blitz to turn a 4-2 deficit into a 21-6 lead exactly 10 minutes into the game. Fonville ignited the onslaught with a 3 and Phanord followed with back-to-back treys before Calling dropped in a pair of free throws. Two Stanford layups punctuated the run.
Phanord's challenge this season was no easy one, moving into the starting spot held by Holmes, who was invited to two NBA D-League training camps (Washington Wizards and Los Angeles Lakers). Phanord made his five 3-pointers on just seven attempts.
"Kyle was a vital role player for us last year, and it's good to see him step up into a more prominent role now," Howes said. "Austin has shown tremendous improvement and has taken advantage of injuries to teammates to cement himself as an inside presence.
"Both have their best basketball ahead of them."
CUA went into recess with a 41-24 advantage and maintained a double-digit lead throughout the second half. The spread grew to as high as 31 points when Calling hit two more from the line with 5:16 to play. He was 6 of 9 from the floor and 6 of 8 from the stripe.
Riley Kirsch, another second-year player who has performed well this season, played 13 minutes off the bench and produced eight points on 4 of 5 shooting and collected five boards. The Cards held an 18-rebound advantage over the Rangers, and Limberiou tied his career high for the sixth time with three of CUA's seven steals.
The Cardinals are off for final exams next week before returning to play at Randolph-Macon College on Sunday Dec. 15. Game time is 4 p.m.