By Chris McManes
WASHINGTON – For the second time this season, Catholic University needed a late basket to edge the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. And the same guy delivered both times.
Three weeks to the day after the wizard of Washington hit the game-winning jumper against the Mariners, Fonville came through again, this time with a layup. Before the game went into the win column for the Cardinals, however, they had to withstand two potential game winners.
CUA Coach Steve Howes was pleased with what he saw from his young team.
"I've loved this team's competitiveness and chemistry from day one of practice," said Howes, whose team has just one senior. "That cohesion paid big dividends tonight."
Freshman Jay Howard scored a team-high 16 points for CUA, and Fonville produced 13 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals. The Cards left Liebertz Gym 15-3 and 9-0 in the Landmark Conference.
Corey Stanford picked up 12 points and seven boards for the streaking Cardinals, who have won nine straight since a Dec. 15 loss at St. Vincent. Kyle Phanord's 11 points included a huge 3-pointer late.
CUA looked good when Howard scored to give the Cards their biggest lead of the day, 57-46, with 8:47 to go. But Merchant Marine showed no quit and rang off 14 straight points to lead by three with just under four minutes to play.
"They're a good team," Howes said.
Phanord tied it on a trey to end the Cardinals' five-minute scoring drought. The bonus-one shot started a 9-2 run that Fonville – a junior playmaking guard from North Carolina – punctuated with a defensive rebound and a free throw. The shot put the Cards on top, 66-62, at the 45-second mark.
David Smith answered by scoring five of his game-high 21 points on a 3-pointer and a layup as the Mariners regained the lead, 67-66 and within scent of their first conference victory. CUA had been in a similar situation 21 days prior, and Howes knew in whose hands he wanted the ball.
The Cardinals spread the court against the Kings Point man-to-man defense and had Fonville up top surveying the landscape. Without benefit of a screen, he crossed over from left to right and blew past his defender for a layup off the glass.
"It helps to have one of the best point guards in the country," Howes said. "Bryson scores, he sets others up and he rebounds better than any point guard I have ever seen in Division III."
After Howes called timeout with 18 seconds to play, Hunter Jones (nine points) missed a jump shot but got his own rebound and Merchant Marine took a timeout with 1.5 seconds left. The Mariners inbounded the ball to Smith, whose catch-and-release 3-pointer against Howard's tight defense bounced off the front of the rim as time expired.
Smith, a 6-foot-4 junior guard from Lakewood, Wash., made 8 of 16 shots and 3 of 7 from long distance. He added three rebounds, two assists and a pair of steals.
Matthew Miller (14 points) was the only other player in double figures for Merchant Marine (3-14, 0-9). Scott Dennin corralled 10 rebounds to help give the Mariners a 34-24 advantage on the boards.
Fonville was called for his fourth foul with 12:15 left and sat out of nearly five minutes. He reentered with 7:26 remaining.
"He was unbelievable the way he played after coming back in and being in foul trouble," Howes said.
The Cardinals play their second of three-straight road games with a Wednesday tilt at Susquehanna. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m.
The Crusaders (14-4, 7-2), who defeated Elizabethtown on the road Saturday, have won five in a row. They sit a game a half-game behind Scranton in the Landmark Conference.