December 1, 2010

Cardinals run record to 5-0 with another hard-fought road win

PITTSBURGH, Pa. – The CUA men's basketball team won another nail-biter on Wednesday evening as the Cardinals downed Carnegie Mellon 52-50 on the road.  For the second straight game CUA's defense was on display as it held the Tartans to 32-percent shooting.   With the win CUA is off to its best start since the 2006-07 season at 5-0.

Senior Jason Banzhaf continued his torrid play for CUA with another double-double (18 points, 13 rebounds), while classmate R.J. Dixon sank 9 of 10 at the foul line en route to 13 points.  Dixon also pulled down eight rebounds and handed out a pair of assists.

The Cardinals shot only 36-percent from the floor, but they did a nice job at the free throw line, hitting 14 of 19 attempts (73.7-percent) and they outscored Carnegie Mellon 26-14 in the paint.

The Tartans got 17 points from their bench, led by Asad Meghani with 10, while Matthew Pettit scored a team-high 13 points to go along with 11 rebounds. 

Carnegie Mellon committed only eight turnovers, but was unable to find its shooting stroke against CUA's tough defense as the Tartans connected on only 32-percent from the field and 25-percent from beyond the arc.

With three minutes gone in the game Banzhaf got inside for a layup to put CUA up 6-2, but five straight points by Carnegie Mellon gave the home team a 7-6 advantage at the 14:38 mark.

A three by Meghani and another by John Duhring gave the Tartans a 10-point lead with 9:39 to go in the half, but Darrell Carroll sank a jumper and Dixon followed with a pair of free throws to pull CUA to within six at 16-10.

With under seven to play Shawn Holmes splashed back-to-back threes for the Cardinals as they got to within a single basket at 18-16.  The Tartans answered with four straight though, as they went ahead 22-16 with 3:47 on the clock.

Rashaun Riley's three at the 3:03 mark gave Carnegie Mellon a 25-18 advantage, but that proved to be the final points of the half for the Tartans as CUA ripped off eight straight, capped by Chris Kearney's dunk with only 12 seconds to play which sent the Cardinals into halftime ahead by one, 26-25.

CUA scored seven of the first eight points in the early going of the second half to increase its lead to 33-26, but Carnegie Mellon answered with a 10-2 run to surge in front 37-35 with 10:14 to play.

Banzhaf and Dixon then buried back-to-back jumpers to give the lead back to CUA, but two free throws by Pettit tied the game for the fourth time, at 39 with 9:26 remaining.

Over the next four minutes the teams were tied on three separate occasions, the last time coming with 4:52 to play after Dixon hit a pair at the charity stripe.  CUA then gave itself some breathing room as the Cardinals got a defensive stop and Banzhaf and Kearney followed with two straight baskets.

Duhring's jumper at the 1:49 mark pulled the Tartans within two at 51-49, while Joe Kromka's free throw a minute later made it a one-point game as the teams headed for the finish.

Following a missed free throw by CUA, Carnegie Mellon got the ball and worked it around to Duhring, but his three was off the mark and Dixon pulled down the rebound and got fouled.  The senior sank one of two at the line and CUA's defense forced a missed shot by Meghani just before the buzzer to lift the Cardinals to another hard-fought road win.

CUA will play game three of a four-game road trip on Saturday evening when the Cardinals travel to Towson, Md. for the Landmark Conference opener vs. Goucher.  Tip-off is slated for 5:30.

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