By Chris McManes
Catholic University's Corey Stanford is starting not to play like a freshman. His development could spell bad news for Cardinal opponents.
Stanford followed the first double-double of his career with his best all all-around game to lead CUA to a 76-66 victory over the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Landmark Conference action on Saturday.
Stanford scored a career-high 25 points and corralled nine rebounds in an afternoon game at O'Hara Hall in Kings Point, N.Y. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound power forward was 6 of 11 from the field and 8 of 10 from the line. He tied his personal high in 3-pointers by draining 5 of 6.
"It was Corey's best game by far," Cardinal Coach Steve Howes said. "He played well offensively, defensively and on the boards."
CUA, which got 16 points and four assists from point guard Bryson Fonville, won its third straight to move to 8-5 overall and 2-0 in the Landmark. The Mariners fell to 5-8 and 1-2.
The Cards made 11 of 22 3-pointers and committed a season-low three turnovers. They sank 23 of 28 (82.1 percent) free throws, led by Fonville's 12 of 14. Sharpshooter Steve Limberiou, who has made 17 of his last 27 triples, was 2-for-4 beyond the arc. Kyle Phanord made 4 of 7 long-rangers and finished with 12 points. His brother, Kevin, produced three steals.
"It was a heck of a performance by Corey and Bryson in the second half," said Howes, whose team led 27-26 at halftime. "The twins [Kyle and Kevin Phanord] were awesome with the pressure they put on the ball all day."
CUA forced Merchant Marine into committing 17 turnovers, 10 in the first 20 minutes. The hosts made 50 percent of their first-half field goal attempts, but only got off 20 shots.
"I'm very proud of the toughness and poise we displayed," Howes said. "We played great defense in the first half."
Zach Karczewski paced the Mariners with 19 points on 7 of 12 shooting. Nick Sergio chipped in 13 points by making half of his 10 shots and collected seven rebounds. Scott Dennin had a team-high eight boards.
USMMA made 53.8 percent of its shots after recess and 52.2 percent overall. It blocked eight shots won the rebounding scuffle, 36-27.
The Cardinals broke from the break with a 13-5 run to go ahead by nine. A Kyle Phanord trey made it 48-35 with 14:18 to play. The cushion reached as much as 17, 56-39, at the 11:09 mark following back-to-back 3s by Limberiou. The Mariners, who won by three points in overtime at Scranton in December, responded with an 18-6 outburst to draw within 62-57.
CUA then strolled to the free throw line 14 times and made them all. Stanford hit the first two and the last two, Kevin Phanord sank a pair and Fonville dropped in eight straight. Stanford was coming off a 15-point, 11-rebound performance in Wednesday's 76-63 victory over DeSales University.
"Corey is very coachable and went through the traditional first-semester learning curve," Howes said. "His tremendous talent is starting to show through, just in time for conference play."
The Cardinals play at Landmark co-leader Juniata (11-2, 2-0) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Four of the Cards' next five games are on the road.