By Chris McManes
WASHINGTON – CUA Men's Basketball Coach Steve Howes got a glimpse into his team's future Friday afternoon.
He liked what he saw.
Sophomore Corey Stanford, freshman Jay Howard and junior Bryson Fonville combined to score 51 points in the Cardinals' 68-63 victory over Gwynedd Mercy in the first game of the Hoopsville National Invitational Classic presented by Buffalo Wild Wings at Owings Mills (Md.) Gymnasium.
The Griffins, 19-7 a year ago, led by as much as eight points in the first half and by six with under 10 minutes to play. Howes is proud of how his team responded to improve to 2-1.
"That's a very good team we beat," Howes said. "To come through the way we did is extremely gratifying. It was a game of runs, a heavyweight contest, back and forth, and we found a way. It wasn't always pretty but this group's been very tough, and that toughness paid off tonight."
Stanford, reigning Landmark Conference Rookie of the Year, posted game highs in points (19) and rebounds (7). The power forward was 7 of 14 from the field. Fonville, 7 of 13 shooting, tallied 18 points and had four assists and two steals.
Howard, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound swingman, scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half and added four rebounds, two assists and three steals. Austin Calling tallied 10 points to go along with six boards, and Kyle Phanord had three of the Cards' 15 assists.
"We got contributions from all over," Howes said. "Corey Stanford was excellent and Bryson Fonville was solid as usual at the point. When he fouled out, Kyle steps in with three [minutes] to go and brings us down the stretch.
"We got tremendous contributions from our [centers], Will Turner and Austin Calling. They went 9-for-10 combined from the line. And Jay Howard was explosive in the second half, like we asked him to do at halftime."
Aaron Goodman and Darnell Artis paced Gwynedd Mercy (2-1) with 13 points apiece. Goodman added six rebounds and three assists, and Artis had five assists. Cedric Elleby produced 12 points and six rebounds. The Griffins outrebounded CUA, 32-29.
Gwynedd Mercy, picked to finish second in the College States Athletic Conference, led by as much as five in the first half and 34-30 at intermission. It closed a 9-2 run on three straight Elleby layups to lead 45-37 with 16:05 to play.
The Cardinals, trailing 55-49, clawed back to tie the game at 61 on a Howard layup with 2:39 to go. He scored again inside, Stanford hit two freebies and Howard added one as CUA's final 7-2 charge proved the difference. Calling, 6-for-6 from the line, nailed two with three seconds to go. He scored six of his points in the final 9:40.
Fonville, Howard and Stanford give the Cardinals a formidable trio.
"I told Jay I needed him to step up in the second half, and he did. He joined Bryson and Corey and played phenomenally," Howes said. "It was a great Division III basketball game – very physical, very competitive."
The Cards play their next game in the 10-team tournament on Sunday against Purchase (N.Y.) College at 5 p.m.
NOTES – CUA improved to 3-0 in the Hoopsville National Invitational Classic. It also played in the inaugural event, hosted by Stevenson University, in 2012. … The Cardinals were playing without their injured starting center, Ry'n Bland. … Gwynedd Mercy defeated visiting CUA, 74-72 in overtime, in the second round of the 2004 NCAA Tournament in what turned out to be Mike Lonergan's final game as Cardinal head coach. Lonergan left for an assistant's job with Maryland, then spent six years as bench boss at Vermont. He's now in his fourth season at George Washington … The Cards committed just eight turnovers and were 20 of 26 (76.9 percent) from the free throw line. … CUA's first home game is against Washington and Lee on Tuesday at 5 p.m.