By: Chris McManes
WASHINGTON - After four months of preparation the Landmark Conference Men's Basketball Championship is here and The Catholic University of America is the league's top seed. In today's championship final, the Cardinals will host the second-seeded and nationally ranked No. 16 Susquehanna University, at 7 p.m.
Catholic has reached the conference finals in three of the last four years, claiming the title in 2013. The Cardinals will look for redemption tonight after being upset last season by Scranton in the title game.
Susquehanna has reached the championship final twice since the league's inception in 2007-08. The Crusaders will be seeking its first conference title, having lost in the final game in 2009 and 2014, both at the hands of Scranton.
Today's matchup will be the first time the Cards and Crusaders will meet in the finale.
The 2016 Cardinals earned their second consecutive regular season title with a conference record of 13-3. As the top-seed, Catholic brought down the fourth-seeded Juniata Eagles, 79-66, on their home court during the semifinal match, Wednesday night.
Senior Bryson Fonville scored 23 points, and junior Corey Stanford had 19 points, 12 rebounds and five assists to pace the top-seeded Cardinals. Fonville added seven rebounds and six assists for CUA while fellow senior Kyle Phanord drilled four 3-pointers.
Jay Howard added 15 points and nine boards for the Cards, who outrebounded the Eagles, 41-31, and made 23 of 31 free throws (74 percent) to just 2 of 5 for Juniata.
No. 16 Susquehanna earned their spot in the championship match after downing the University of Scranton, 77-72, in the semifinals. The Crusaders shot 28 percent from three-point range but countered that with a 44 pecent effort from the floor.
The Cardinals and Crusaders split their series during the regular season, each winning their respective home contests. Both teams are averaging 80 point a game, and are both connecting on 38 percent from long-distance. Defensively, Susquehanna has a rebounding margin of 4.0, just slightly higher than Catholic's 3.5.