By Chris McManes
WASHINGTON – It was a long-range shooting performance for the ages.
Steve Limberiou made six consecutive 3-pointers in a span of three minutes and 38 seconds of the second half and later added another en route to a game-high 30 points in an 87-61 victory over St. Joseph's College (Maine).
"I made a deep one to start the second half, and from then on – once I get a couple in a row like that – it just felt like anything I put up was going to go in," Limberiou said. "It was a great feeling."
Performing in the third-place game of the CUA-Holiday Inn College Park Classic at DuFour Center on Sunday, Limberiou finished 9 of 13 overall and 8 of 11 from beyond the arc. He was a perfect 7-for-7 from 3-point territory after the break.
Limberiou's bombs-away display overshadowed an excellent game by Bryson Fonville, who was 4 of 5 on 3s and finished with a career-high 24 points. Fonville shot 9 of 15 from the floor and added eight assists. One of his most acrobatic plays came when he split two defenders with a spin move at the free throw line and knifed his way in for a layup.
"He's the key to this vehicle," Cardinal Coach Steve Howes said. "He drives it, and it was great to see him break through today. We were spoiled by his play last year, and though he hasn't played the way that he's capable, he showed the true player that he really is today.
"I think he's one of the finest point guards in Division III."
Limberiou seconded Howes' opinion: "Bryson was great today, knocking down outside shots and setting me up on a lot on those 3s. He's terrific – one of the best point guards in the country."
Playing with a passion, focus and desire that it lacked in its opening-round loss to SUNY Cortland on Saturday, the Cards came out strong from the outset. Fonville nailed two early shots from downtown, and when Limberiou drained his only first-period 3, the Cardinals had a 21-14 lead. Fonville took a pass from Limberiou and sank another triple from the left corner with 2:24 to go before halftime, and CUA (6-5) went into recess leading 41-24.
"I thought today was a big step in the right direction," Limberiou said. "We came out playing hard on defense and that kind of sets up our offense, too."
Howes praised the defensive effort of twin guards Kyle and Kevin Phanord.
"Their energy sparked us yesterday," he said, "and it led right in to today."
Limberiou's performance was arguably the second-best shooting display in Catholic University basketball history. Only Mike Connelly, who made 11 of 12 from beyond the arc at York (Pa.) College on Feb. 17, 1992, was more on fire than Limberiou.
"Steve is the best shooter I've ever recruited," Howes said. "It was good to see him shoot the ball today. I think this year he's turned down more good shots than he's actually shot. I'm glad to see he was ready to fire them away today."
Limberiou's eight 3-pointers tied the career high he established in the season opener against Westminster on Nov. 15, 2013. He tallied a personal-best 33 points that game.
Limberiou began his six-shooter streak with a 3 from just to the left of the top of the key with 14:27 to play and put the Cards on top, 50-33. His next five all came from the left wing, and if not from NBA range, very close it. He nailed them at 13:06, 12:34, 11:59, 11:17 and 10:49. His last dagger gave CUA a 30-point advantage. Despite Limberiou's torrid firing, St. Joseph's largely remained in a zone defense and failed to get close enough to disturb his shotmaking.
With 5:10 remaining, the 6-foot-5 small forward made his seventh consecutive 3-ball. The only one of the seven that was contested, Limberiou shook the defender with a step to the left and put in his closest 3-pointer of the half. He exited the game to the cheers of the sparse crowd with 1:49 remaining. In addition to his marksmanship, he contributed five rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Limberiou, MVP of last year's CUA-Holiday Inn College Park Classic, was an easy choice for the All-Tournament team.
Jerome Diggs and Matt Medeiros led the Monks (4-6) with 13 points apiece. Zach Blodgett and James Philbrook each scored 10 points. Nicholas Jobin added seven points and a game-high eight boards. Philbrook corralled five rebounds, and Blodgett totaled four boards and three steals.
The Cardinals succeeded on 57.7 percent of their field goals (30 of 52), as well as their 3-pointers (15 of 26). Both marks were season highs. Riley Kirsch grabbed seven rebounds off the bench in just eight minutes of play.
Limberiou's father, George, attended the game from his family's home in Pittsburgh.
"It was great that my dad was here for the games this weekend," he said. "I'm glad he was here to see that and great all of my teammates got involved."
NOTES – Kevin McMahon named tournament MVP after leading SUNY Cortland to the championship. He scored 17 points on 8 of 12 shooting and had six rebounds Sunday in the Red Dragon's 69-62 victory over Misericordia. He and Steve Limberiou were joined on the All-Tournament team by Lamard Herron (Cortland), Jerome Diggs (St. Joseph's) and Steve Ware (Misericordia). Herron scored 20 points Sunday. … Andy O'Brien, the all-time leading scorer (2,001 points) in York (Pa.) College and Capital Athletic Conference history, was one of the title game officials. O'Brien competed at DuFour Center many times when CUA was a member of the CAC.