TOWSON, Md. - Catholic University received a dose of firepower from an unlikely source Saturday night.
Andy Roell pumped in a career-high 12 points, including a tie-breaking field goal late in the game, and Jason Banzhaf scored 19 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead the Cardinals to a 73-57 victory at Goucher College at the Decker Sports & Recreation Center.
The Cardinals won their fourth straight on the road to improve to 6-0. It is their best start in eight years. The Gophers dropped to 1-4. It was the Landmark Conference opener for both teams.
Roell, who had not attempted a shot this season, equaled his previous career high of six points with a pair of 3-pointers in the first half. The junior from Avon, Conn., also took a key charge and had a big assist in his finest performance in a CUA uniform.
Roell finished 4 of 7 from the field, including 3 of 5 from beyond the arc. He did all his damage in just 15 minutes of play.
"Andy provided an incredible spark when we needed it most in each half, hitting big baskets at clutch times," Cardinal Head Coach Steve Howes said. "It's always very gratifying to watch a kid who hasn't played very much continue to practice hard, consistently root his teammates on and answer the call when needed."
After Goucher used a 9-2 second-half run to tie the contest at 46, Roell made the Cards' first basket in nearly three minutes with a shot from the left corner. When he assisted on Banzhaf's layup, it punctuated a 7-0 outburst to put the Cardinals ahead to stay, 53-46. A Dan DiVietri 3-pointer gave CUA an eight-point lead and sealed the win.
Backcourt mates R.J. Dixon and Shawn Holmes scored 10 points apiece for the Cardinals and combined for nine assists vs. four turnovers. DiVietri had nine points, six boards and four assists.
Banzhaf, a senior two-time honorable mention All-American, sank 7 of 12 shots and helped CUA to a 48-36 rebounding advantage.
Trae Lindsay led the Gophers with 13 points and Shane Yambor added 11. Both teams struggled from the free throw line: the Cards were 16 of 30 and Goucher 12 of 25.
CUA broke from an early 9-6 deficit with a 10-2 run to go ahead, 16-11. Roell emerged from the bench to spark the run with a 3-pointer and took a charge that led to a driving layup by Spencer Reed. Roell hit another trey from the right wing a short time later to give the Cardinals a 21-14 lead with 9:36 to play before halftime.
"It was exciting to get the chance to play," Roell said. "Coach [Howes] had told me before we played Carnegie Mellon [on Wednesday] that my chance was coming and to be ready. So I just really wanted to keep progressing and show what I could do on the court.
"I was trying to play within our offense and do everything I could to help our team get another win."
Roell laced a triple, this time from the left corner, to build the CUA advantage to 29-20. The Gophers scored the final five points of the half to trim the Cards' advantage to 29-25 at intermission.
The Cardinals continue their road trip with a contest at DeSales University in Center Valley, Pa., on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Bulldogs (4-2) are ranked 24th in the nation by d3Hoops.com.
"We've put together a very challenging schedule because we wanted to be tested," Howes said. "So far we've passed the test, but our main focus is getting better each day and enjoying the time we spend together. We're very blessed and fortunate to do what we do.
"We want to live in the precious present."
Story written by Chris McManes, former CUA Sports Information Director