Cards Fall to Alvernia in ECAC Semi-Final, 81-75
WASHINGTON- After a total of six changes throughout the night, the Catholic University's men's basketball team dropped a heartbreaker to Alvernia College on their home court Saturday afternoon. The top seeded Cardinals were the #1 seed in the ECAC South Region, and fell in the semifinal game to the visiting Crusaders 81-75.
The victory moves Alvernia into the championship game, to be held at Catholic University on Sunday, where they will face University of Pittsburgh Behrend at 2 p.m. For Catholic, the loss will end their post-season run and bring their final record to 18-9 on the year.
Five Cardinals managed double-digits in points, showcasing the team's balanced offensive attack. Freshman Chris Kearney led the way with 16 points and four blocked shots. R.J. Dixon and Jason Banzhaf added 15 and 13, respectively. Dixon also dished out six assists, and Banzhaf grabbed a team-high of 8 rebounds on the night. Brian Baker chipped in with 11 points, including 3-5 from the behind the arch, while Darrell Carroll rounded out the scoring with 10.
The Crusaders jumped out to an early lead, but a Banzhaf 3-pointer with 9 minutes in the first half sparked a 14-2 run that put the Cards ahead by six. CUA maintained that lead until a freethrow by Antonio Williams gave Alvernia an advantage that they would hold until halftime.
CUA battled back in the second period and took a one-point lead with 17 minutes remaining. The Crusaders continued to capitalize on hot shooting, however, going 55% from the floor and 43% from three-point land. A jumper by Ryan Ludwig gave Alvernia a lead they would not relinquish, as they ran away with the 81-75 victory.
In the second semi-final game of the afternoon, Bethany College was defeated by PSU Behrend by a score of 67-65. Junior Chris Saltzman led all scorers with a game high 26 points, while teammates Russ Conley and Adam Kaiser each chipped in 11. Bethany's Joe Testa earned the sole double-double of the evening, netting 14 points and pulling down 11 boards. Ryan McFadden and Jay Lyonett each added 12 and 11 points, respectively.