March 2, 2011

CUA earns win No. 20, spot in tournament semifinals

WASHINGTON – Behind a gritty team effort, CUA downed Gallaudet 66-58 on Wednesday evening in the quarterfinal round of the ECAC Tournament.  The win gives CUA (20-8) its 11th 20-win season in the last 14 years and advances the Cardinals into the tournament semifinals where they will meet DeSales University on Saturday.

After scoring only 18 points in the first half CUA's offense came to life in the second, scoring 48 points on 46 percent shooting.  Cody Otto came off the bench and gave the Cardinals a terrific burst of energy with seven points, five rebounds, five assists and a pair of steals in 15 minutes of action to help lead CUA back from a six-point deficit at intermission.

The Cardinals trailed 44-39 with under nine minutes to play, but three straight 3-pointers propelled CUA into the lead at 48-44 with 6:21 on the clock.

A R.J. Dixon trifecta with 3:49 remaining pushed the Cardinals lead to eight, but Luther Weeden answered with a three down the other end for Gallaudet (17-11) to make the score 55-50. 

Otto then got inside for a bucket on CUA's next possession to increase the lead to seven, but again the Bison responded with a three when Brandon McMillan hit a shot from deep at the 2:58 mark to bring the visitors within four.

On CUA's next time down the floor the ball found its way into Otto's hands and the Cardinals super sub scored yet again, which made the score 59-53 with 2:35 to play.  It was déjà vu for the Bison however when Seeber hit a third straight 3-pointer for Gallaudet to bring the Bison within three, 59-56.

CUA's Jason Banzhaf was fouled and after sinking a pair at the line the Cardinals were in front by five.  CUA was then able to get a huge defensive stop and after Shawn Holmes hit two free throws the Cardinals had a seven-point lead with only 21 ticks on the clock.

Dixon led CUA with 17 points in the game, which included five 3-pointers, while Chris Kearney netted 13 and Holmes added 12.  Holmes also handed out six assists and Kearney and Banzhaf were the team leaders in rebounds with eight each.

Seeber led the visitors with 19 points on the evening with Danny Kelly totaling 10 on 5 of 10 shooting.  Seeber dished out five assists, but as a team Gallaudet committed 20 turnovers. 

The Cardinals offense sputtered for much of the first half with Gallaudet grabbing an early 6-5 lead on a McMillan layup.  The Bison extended to a 13-7 lead on Seeber's basket at the 10:51 mark and after Kelly hit a jumper with 9:52 to go in the half the Bison were on top 15-9.

Gabe Estrada got to the hoop for an uncontested layup to bring CUA within 17-14 at the 5:53 mark, but Kelly answered down the other end with a bucket to make it a five-point game. 

Another Kelly basket followed by a Seeber 3-pointer with exactly three minutes to go made the score 24-16 in favor of the Bison, but Kearney scored in the final ten seconds to trim the lead to six at halftime.

CUA and DeSales will meet at 1 p.m. on Saturday on the campus of Lebanon Valley College in the 2011 ECAC Tournament semifinals.  The teams met earlier this season with the Bulldogs coming away with a six-point win in Pennsylvania.  The other matchup features host Lebanon Valley taking on Wesley.  The two winners will then meet on Sunday afternoon. 

CUA and DeSales met in the 2005 ECAC Tournament when the Cardinals earned a hard-fought 72-71 overtime win.

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