Written by Chris McManes
WASHINGTON – Bryson Fonville was named 2014-15 Landmark Conference Player of the Year. On Thursday night, he showed why.
Fonville scored a career-high 38 points and made 14 consecutive free throws in the final 3:04 to lead Catholic University to an 87-80 victory over Alvernia in an NCAA Division III Tournament game.
Fonville's 38 points are the most a Cardinal has scored at the Raymond A. DuFour Center, which opened in 1985. It is also the most points a CUA player has produced at the Division III level and tied for the 13th-best scoring night in Cardinal basketball history, which began in 1911.
"He's a special player," CUA Coach Steve Howes said. "I've said it all year, he's one of the elite point guards at our level. He doesn't get the credit that he deserves, and then here in the first round of the NCAA Tournament he put on quite a show.
The 23rd-ranked Cardinals (23-5) will play at No. 1 Randolph-Macon (26-2) in Ashland, Va., on Saturday at 4 p.m.
Fonville was 9 of 13 from the field and 20 of 21 from the line. With CUA clinging to an 80-76 lead, he made 7 of 8 foul shots in the last 25.4 seconds to seal the win. Jay Howard added 19 points, and Corey Stanford had 14 points and 10 rebounds
Harrison Deyo led the Crusaders (18-10) with 27 points, and Lamont Clark had 20 points, nine boards and nine assists. Charles Cooper finished with 19 points but was just 3 of 14 from 3-point distance and 6 of 17 overall.
Just like many in the region spent the day digging out from a big snowstorm, the Cardinals had to dig themselves out of a 9-0 hole. Fonville committed three of his five turnovers in the opening two minutes. The playmaking wizard and his teammates responded with a 15-2 surge that Howard punctuated with a layup off a Stanford assist to lead 15-11.
CUA went up 33-20 on a 10-2 run that Stanford started with a three-point play off a reverse layup and Austin Calling cemented with an alley-oop from Fonville to score down low. In between, a Howard block of Clark's shot led to Fonville scoring on a fastbreak. The junior was hit in the air and completed the three-point play.
The Cards left the floor with a 37-24 halftime lead.
The advantage ballooned to 17 points, 43-26, when Fonville received a Calling pass and hit a jumper. But the three-time reigning Commonwealth Conference champions were not about to pack it in. Alex Shippen (five points, five rebounds) sank a 3-pointer to conclude a 10-0 uprising to bring Alvernia to within 43-36 with 14:14 to play.
Fonville came to the rescue on the Cards' ensuing 7-0 outburst. First he used a slick crossover dribble to nail a jumper and followed with an assist on Kyle Phanord's trey. Then his steal and pass ahead to a streaking Howard resulted in a transition basket and 50-36 lead.
Stanford's short driving jumper gave CUA a 66-51 advantage with just under five minutes to play and would be the Cardinals' final field goal. Cooper's triple from the left wing brought the Crusaders to within 66-58 at the 3:22 mark. CUA's parade to the free throw line followed.
Fonville made four straight, and Howard and Stanford combined to go 4-for-4. The Cards sandwiched two more Fonville charity stripers with four misses, and when Cooper deposited a 3-ball from the right corner, the CUA lead had dwindled to 76-70 with 1:07 remaining.
Cooper launched another successful trey from the left wing and hit three free throws after Fonville fouled him beyond the arc to make it 80-76 Cardinals with 26.8 seconds left. Fonville put the finishing touches on his offensive masterpiece by making six more from the line before missing his only foul shot of the night with 1.1 seconds to go.
"It's never easy in the NCAA Tournament," Howes said. "I thought we played well. We didn't hit a few free throws at the end, and they hit a couple shots from another ZIP code. I was really pleased with our energy and effort, especially coming out after halftime.
"To play the way we did in the first half and then to jump on them at the start of the second half showed a lot of maturity on our part."
Fonville improved his free-throw percentage to a team-high 77.7 percent.
"My teammates told me that they were going to give me the ball," said Fonville, who added five assists and three steals. "They trust me at the line, so I knew I couldn't let them down."
Calling shot 5-for-7 and totaled 10 points, five rebounds and two assists. Stanford was 5 of 10 and had four assists and a steal. Howard, the Landmark Rookie of the Year, was good on 6 of 11 from the floor and 7 of 12 at the line. He added six boards as CUA held a slim 29-26 rebounding margin.
The rebounding totals were low because both teams shot so well. Alvernia hit 50 percent and the Cards 56 percent.
Deyo, a 6-foot-6 senior, concluded his career by making 11 of 13 field goals and 5 of 6 freebies. He had seven rebounds and three blocks. Fellow senior Clark shot 10 of 16 and was the only player to play the entire 40 minutes.
Fonville, who said he never scored more points in any basketball game, is looking forward to taking on Randolph-Macon, the Old Dominion Athletic Conference champion that has won 23 in a row. Plus, his parents, Kim and Tracie, won't have as long a trip from their home in Greensboro, N.C.
"We're real excited," he said. "You rarely get the opportunity to play the No. 1 in the country, so we're going down there with the same attitude we go into every game: looking to win and just play hard, play our game."
Notes – Former CUA head basketball coaches Mike Lonergan (men) and his wife Maggie (women) attended the game with their five children: Jack, Margaret, Michael, Moe and Regina. They were sitting close to two-time second-team All-American Matt Hilleary, who was named to the All-Tournament team of the 2001 Final Four. Lonergan, now head coach at George Washington, led those Cardinals to the only team national championship in school history. … 2013 Landmark Conference Player and Defensive Player of the Year Chris Kearney was in attendance with teammate Nate Koenig. Kearney, who played professionally in Spain last year, is one of only two Cards named first-team All-American (Will Morley). … Father Sean Foggo, who played baseball for the Redbirds, also took in the game. He is assigned to Steve Howes' parish, St. Peter's in Olney, Md. Father Foggo was Cardinal assistant coach Tommy Berry's world history teacher at DeMatha Catholic High School. … Salisbury's Andre Foreman holds the DuFour Center scoring record with 41 points. Lonergan recruited his son, Landon Milbourne, to play at Maryland during Lonergan's one season (2004-05) on Gary Williams' staff. Foreman was the national Player of the Year in 1991-92 and is the all-time leading scorer in NCAA Division III history (2,940 points). … The CUA student section did a rousing rendition of Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" during halftime.