Men's Basketball to Face Scranton in Landmark Semifinals
WASHINGTON-- When the men's basketball team takes the court Wednesday evening its opponent will be a familiar one...Scranton. The two teams split the regular season series and with a spot in the Landmark Championship on the line, the two will meet again.
In the first meeting CUA hosted Scranton, and handed the visitors a 64-59 loss. Jason Banzhaf (Livingston, N.J./Seton Hall Prep) scored a team-high 22 points, and grabbed eight rebounds, but the Cardinals would have to look further to find a way to win. Evin Yarbrough (Burke, Va./Lake Braddock), Spencer Reed (Haddonfield, N.J./Haddonfield Memorial), and R.J. Dixon (Charlotte, N.C./Cannon School) stepped up when Banzhaf grabbed his fourth foul with 15:09 remaining in the second half.
CUA had a 10 point lead at the time, but saw that lead slowly recede and eventually turn into a defecit over the next five minutes. Everyone attending the game knew that the game was no longer a runaway but was going to turn into an intense battle.
Regularly changing players and working in Banzhaf in short bursts kept Scranton on their heels and the hosts in control. In the final 45 seconds of the game CUA extended its lead to five by converting four of six free throws
In the second game, Scranton played host. The Cardinals fell to Scraton, 66-59.
CUA grabbed the lead in the opening minutes of the game and held on until the six minute mark of the first half. Sophomores Spencer Reed and Jason Banzhaf combined for 13 points as the Cardinals shot 50 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes of play. A three pointer by R.J. Dixon (Charlotte, N.C./Cannon School) coupled with a lay-up by Banzhaf gave the Cards a slight 29-27 edge as both teams headed into halftime.
After a total of five lead changes, the Cardinals took their final lead of the game with 4:23 remaining on a 3-pointer by Banzhaf, 52-51. Scranton's Ryan Fitzpatrick then buried a 3-pointer and added a jump shot during a 9-2 rally as Scranton opened up a 60-54 lead with 1:08 left. The Royals salted it away in the final minute of play by making six free throws. For the game, Scranton connected on 16 of 21 free throw attempts (76.2 percent), including 11 of 15 in the second half.
Head coach Steve Howes said, "The CUA-Scranton rivalry goes back a long way and this will add to that tradition. They are a very good and their size poses problems. We have had a good year and are much improved over last year. Our guys just need to remember that defense and rebounding wins championships."
In total, the two teams split the season series by a total of only 11 points with each team winning at home. CUA will look to end that trend with a road victory and a spot in the Landmark Championship game. Tipoff for the Landmark Conference semifinal action will be 7:30 p.m. at the Long Center in Scranton, Pa.