CUA cruises past Blue Devils to give Howes milestone win

MEADVILLE, Pa. – Behind a balanced offensive attack and a stifling defensive performance, the CUA men's basketball team raced past Fredonia State 71-45 on Saturday in its 2010-11 season opener.  With the win, CUA head coach Steve Howes moved past Jack Bruen into sole possession of fourth place on the school's all-time wins list with his 111th career victory.

CUA shot 46-percent as a team in the game and placed three players in double figures led by Dan DiVietri who scored 19 points in his Cardinals debut.  The sophomore sank 5 of 8 field goals and 8 of 9 at the foul line and also pulled down six boards.  Seniors Jason Banzhaf (14) and R.J. Dixon (11) joined DiVietri in double-figures.

Spencer Reed led the Cardinals with nine rebounds, while Dixon handed out a team-high six assists.

Fredonia State was held to 37-percent shooting and only 20 second-half points by a strong CUA defense.  The Blue Devils received 10 points from Kevin Mitchell and Adam Smith, but they committed 19 turnovers and got to the foul line only five times.

CUA scored the game's first four points, including a layup by sophomore Chris Kearney for the first bucket of the new season.  Following the Cardinals quick start, the Blue Devils reeled off ten straight points to take an early 10-4 lead.

With the Cardinals trailing 15-6 senior Brian Baker hit a three-pointer to bring CUA within six at 15-9.  A DiVietri old fashioned three-point play at the 5:42 mark brought CUA to within three at 18-15, while Kearney's dunk and steal on the ensuing possession made it a one-point game.

CUA was able to take the lead back for good when Banzhaf got inside for a basket with 2:46 remaining in the opening half to make it 20-19.  Dixon followed with a trifecta and the Cardinals were on top by four, 23-19.

The teams traded baskets down the stretch, capped by Dixon's free throw with only six ticks to go, and that sent the teams into halftime with CUA on top, 28-25.

CUA came out of halftime on fire, ripping off a 12-0 run in a span of 3:58 to increase its lead to a comfortable 40-25 advantage.  The Cardinals held the Blue Devils without a point for the opening 4:59 until Leonard Smith hit a free throw at the 15:01 mark.

A layup by Smith two minutes later brought Fredonia State to within 42-30, but Reed answered with a jumper down the other end to push CUA's lead back to 14.  Five straight Blue Devil points made it a nine-point game, but again the Cardinals had an answer as DiVietri and Banzhaf splashed back-to-back three-pointers to give CUA a 50-35 lead with 9:44 to play.

CUA's lead hit 20 when DiVietri got inside for a layup with exactly eight minutes to play, and Dixon's three 1:10 later made it a 25-point game.

The Cardinals lead swelled to as many as 30 with 2:36 to go, as CUA cruised to its seventh straight season-opening victory.

CUA now moves onto the championship of the Allegheny Invitational, which will take place on Sunday beginning at 3:00.  The Cardinals will take on the host Allegheny Gators, who defeated Pitt-Greensburg in the other tournament matchup.

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