Cardinals' Rally Falls Short, 69-66 in Tournament Semifinals
By Chris McManes
WASHINGTON - Catholic University trimmed a late 12-point deficit to one before falling, 69-66, at Susquehanna University in the semifinals of the Landmark Conference Tournament on Wednesday night.
Trailing 63-51 with 5:48 remaining at Houts Gymnasium, the Cardinals erupted with a 15-4 run on an assortment of shots. Kyle Phanord's second 3-pointer during the outburst narrowed the Crusader lead to 67-66 with 58 seconds to play. After both squads turned the ball over, Harley Sellinger sealed the Susquehanna win by making two free throws with less than three seconds to go.
Sellinger led all scorers with 19 points and pulled down 20 rebounds. Steve Weidlich added 17 points, and Brandon Hedley had 16 points and five assists. Jake Eskin contributed 12 points and six boards.
The Crusaders improved to 17-9 and will appear in the conference championship game – at the University of Scranton on Saturday at 2 p.m. – for the first time since 2009.
Jared Prince continued his strong play of late for CUA (14-12) with 16 points and eight rebounds. It was his fifth straight game scoring in double figures. Kyle Phanord was 5 of 10 from the floor (4 of 8 on 3s) and finished with 14 points. Bryson Fonville chipped in 11 points, while Corey Stanford and Louis Khouri scored 10 each.
The Cardinals, seeded third in the four-team tournament, lost its final five games a year after going 25-4 and winning the Landmark championship.
Kevin Phanord, Kyle's twin, had a career-high seven assists. Weidlich matched him for Susquehanna, which split with the Cards during the regular season.
Prince's 10 first-half points on 5 of 7 shooting helped put CUA on top 30-28 at halftime. His jumper with 6:49 left before recess gave the Cards a 23-15 lead.
Sellinger, a 6-foot-6, 255-pound senior center, had just three points at that juncture. He tied it with a layup 10 seconds into the second half to spur a 12-0 run that included treys by Weidlich and Hedley. The flurry gave Susquehanna a 40-30 lead, and they would not trail thereafter. At the 12:50 mark, the Crusaders enjoyed their biggest advantage, 50-34.
Khouri punctuated a 13-6 Cardinal run with a 3 to pull his team within 56-47. He sank two from the line at the 4:06 mark to make it 63-58, Susquehanna. Sellinger, who had 25 points and 15 boards in the Crusaders' 73-67 victory at CUA on Feb. 12, scored his team's final six points.
Weidlich's 5 of 11 performance from 3-point range helped Susquehanna shoot 10 of 24 from the bonus sphere. The Cards were 6 of 18.