By Chris McManes
SCRANTON, PA. – It was one of the most dominating performances against a strong opponent in Catholic University women's basketball history.
The No. 13 Cardinals used a devastating second-half run to build a 29-point lead and run away from Scranton, 69-52, on Senior Night at the Long Center on Saturday evening.
It was CUA's second straight victory at Scranton – and second ever – and eighth in a row overall. The Cardinals, who are tied for first place in the Landmark Conference, improved to 22-1 and 11-1. The win ties the CUA record for wins in a season and is its largest margin of victory ever over the Royals.
Scranton, ranked seventh in the Mid-Atlantic region, fell to 16-7 and 8-4.
Emily Grabiak, the only junior in the Cards' starting lineup, led all scorers with 17 points. A point guard who came into the game second in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio, she recorded eight assists vs. one turnover and had five rebounds and four steals. She was 6 of 11 from the floor and made two 3-pointers.
Jenny McGann added 15 points and four steals, and Jill Woerner had 12 points.
The Royals could not stop the Cardinal running game and were outscored on fastbreak points, 17-4. CUA forced 21 turnovers and scored 25 points off Scranton miscues. The Cards held the Royals to 16 of 63 (25.4 percent) shooting, their second-worst shooting performance of the year and worst at home.
Freshman Noelle Alicea led the Royals with 11 points. Erin Boggan had 10 points and eight rebounds, and Shernai Bentley pulled down a game-high 10 boards.
CUA came out red hot, hitting eight of its first 11 shots to take a 20-4 lead on a 3-pointer by McGann. The Cardinals maintained the margin, 26-10, on a baseline driving layup by Kelli Josephsen with 9:46 before the break.
Scranton got back into the game with a 15-6 run to close the half and narrow the Cards' lead to 32-25 at halftime. CUA made just four of its final 23 shots and was 5 of 13 from the line in the opening period.
Following two Boggan triples and a free throw by Meredith Mesaris, Scranton had trimmed the CUA lead to 37-32. The Cardinals responded by scoring nine straight points, including a deep 3-pointer by Liz Briones, in the midst of a 26-5 run to give the Cards a 26-point cushion, 63-37, with 6:10 to go. Grabiak scored seven points during the outburst.
Defensively in the second half, the Cardinals forced a shot-clock violation, Brigid Gannon took two charges and Owunna had four blocks and forced a jump ball. Owunna collected all five of her rebounds after halftime. CUA finished with 14 steals.
The Cards host Goucher College at DuFour Center on Wednesday at 7 p.m., while Scranton hosts Landmark co-leader Moravian. The Cardinals and Moravian close the regular season next Saturday at DuFour Center at 4 p.m.
NOTES – Scranton Coach Mike Strong, the all-time winningest NCAA Division III women's basketball coach, presented CUA's seven seniors and senior manager Kristen Kitrick with a rose prior to the game. He then greeted each of his six seniors playing their final home game … Cardinal Coach Matt Donohue will spend Sunday recruiting in New Jersey. … The Cards have won four in a row over the Royals.
No. 13 Cardinals race past Royals 69-52 in victory at Scranton
By Chris McManes