CUA falls to Stockton College in down-to-the-wire finish

WASHINGTON – In a game that was far from pretty, Stockton College (5-3) outlasted CUA 54-53 on Monday evening inside the DuFour Center.  The Cardinals had their chances in the closing seconds, but a missed free throw and off-target jumper as time expired sent CUA (7-2) to its first home loss of the season.

With 1:35 to play, CUA senior Jason Banzhaf got the ball down low, turned and banked in a shot to bring the Cardinals within one, 49-48.  The New Jersey native then sank a free throw to tie things at 49.

Stockton's Kai Massaquoi then came down the other end and hit a layup of his own to put the visitors up two, but again CUA went to Banzhaf and the All-American answered with another basket from in deep to tie things at 51.

A three by the Osprey's Colin Horsch put Stockton in front 54-51 with 40 seconds remaining, but Massaquoi fouled CUA's Dan DiVietri, sending him to the line for a pair.  DiVietri sank the first attempt, missed the second and got his own rebound.  After a flurry of shots by the Cardinals, freshman Pete Schramm was fouled and stepped to the line with only 1.2 seconds to play. 

The first-year center hit his first attempt but missed the second, however, CUA had one final hope.  In one motion Shawn Holmes grabbed the rebound and put up a shot, but it was off the mark, sending the Cardinals to only their second loss of the season.

Banzhaf had an incredible night shooting the basketball, as he hit 11 of 12 shots from the floor for a game-high 26 points.  He also pulled down a team-high seven rebounds.  CUA struggled from the foul line, connecting on only 12 of 21 attempts (57.1%) and the Cardinals also turned the ball over 21 times.

Massaquoi and Pat Kelly led the Ospreys with 14 points apiece, but like CUA, Stockton struggled with its free throw shooting, hitting only 9 of 19 attempts (47.4%). 

The game was incredibly tight throughout with 10 ties, 14 lead changes and the biggest lead coming with 12:23 to play when Stockton went up by just five. 

The opening half featured four ties, and that's exactly how the teams went into intermission, knotted at 21.  Senior R.J. Dixon hit a pair of free throws for CUA to tie things up with two seconds remaining, in a half where both teams struggled to get their offenses going.  The Cardinals shot 37 percent in the opening 20 minutes, while Stockton hit on just 29 percent. 

As the second half moved along, it became evident that this game was headed down-to-the-wire.  Massaquoi's jumper with 12:23 remaining put the Ospreys in front 32-27, but Banzhaf answered with a three, and following a Stockton two-pointer, Nate Koenig drilled a three for the Cardinals, making it 34-33 with 10:58 to play.

The Cardinals were able to take the lead when Koenig sank a pair at the charity stripe with 8:46 to go, but Massaquoi came right back with a jumper to put the visitors on top 40-39.

In the final four minutes the teams were tied on three occasions, but CUA was never able to grab the lead.

CUA is off for the rest of the week for final exams before returning to action on Saturday evening when the Cardinals play host to Stevenson inside the DuFour Center Gymnasium.  Tip-off is slated for 7:30 p.m. in what is the second game of a CUA basketball doubleheader.  The Cardinal women will take on Stevenson in the opener beginning at 5:30.

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