Cardinals get back to winning ways by downing Mariners

KINGS POINT, N.Y. – The CUA men's basketball team got back in the win column on Friday evening with a 72-62 win over defending Landmark Conference champion Merchant Marine Academy.  The Cardinals led for the final 38 minutes of the contest, as they improve to 11-4 overall and 2-2 in the conference with the victory.

CUA had maintained a comfortable lead for most of the second half, until the Mariners pulled to within five on a three-pointer by Tom Izzo with 6:06 left to play.  The Cardinals responded with a pair of free throws by Shawn Holmes and a huge three-pointer from senior R.J. Dixon to open up a 10-point lead, 64-54 with 1:32 left to play.

The Cardinals then did a terrific job at the foul line, hitting 8-of-8 at the stripe in the final 1:06 to secure the road win.

After leading by as many as 18 points in the first half, CUA took a 39-25 lead into halftime.  The Cardinals then picked up right where they left off in the second half as Holmes' jumper at the 16:07 mark put CUA in front 43-27.

Merchant Marine Academy got to within nine points with 12:11 remaining, but CUA scored the game's next four points to go in front by 13 with 11:15 on the clock.

Dixon finished with 16 points for CUA, while classmate Jason Banzhaf scored 17 and Holmes added 14. Other Cardinals that contributed on the offensive end included Spencer Reed with six, Brian Baker and Andy Roell with five apiece and Matt Stone with four.

The Cardinals shot 52 percent for the game, including 55 percent in the opening 20 minutes, and they outrebounded their counterparts 34-22.  CUA was also strong at the foul line all night long, hitting 13 of 14 attempts, good for 92.9 percent.

Three Mariners hit for double figures, including Matt Hueber (11), Reed Buck (10) and Richard Roach (10).  Merchant Marine Academy turned the ball over only 13 times, but struggled at the charity stripe, sinking 12 of 20 attempts (60 percent).

The Mariners' Jeffrey Mack splashed a three-pointer only 43 seconds into the game to give the home team a 3-2 lead, but that proved to be the last time CUA would trail as Dixon came down the other end and hit a jumper to make it 4-3.  After the score was tied at five, Banzhaf got inside for a layup and the Cardinals led the rest of the way.

Dixon's layup at the 11:29 mark of the opening half gave CUA its first double digit lead of the evening, while Banzhaf's three with 8:50 to go pushed the Cardinals lead to 18, 28-10.

CUA wraps up its weekend with a trip to Drew on Saturday afternoon.  The Cardinals and Rangers will get things going at 2 p.m.

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