WASHINGTON – It was a hard fought second half, as the Catholic University women's basketball team (4-3, 1-1) captured their first Landmark Conference win of the season by defeating the Moravian College Greyhounds(5-4, 1-1) 75-69 on Saturday evening at the DuFour Athletic Center, even though the league foes outscored CUA 41-35 in the last 20 minutes of play.
"I am a very happy with effort we put forth tonight," said head women's basketball coach Matt Donohue. "We still have a few things to work on, but overall we found a way to get a win against a very strong conference opponent."
Sophomore Michelle DeSantis (Trumbull, Conn. / Lauralton Hall) led the Cardinal charge with a team-high 20 points, as freshman Payton Smith (Spring Lake Heights, N.J. / St. Rose High School) and junior Jayni Webster (Bryn Mawr, Pa. / Country Day Sacred Heart) supplemented the output with 16 points and 11 points, respectively. DeSantis, Melissa Errico and Kristen Walheim, who was a perfect 4 of 4 from the free-throw line, pulled down seven rebounds apiece.
"Michelle DeSantis, Payton Smith and Jayni Webster did a very good job of pushing the tempo tonight and controlling the pace of play, and as a result we were able to create some good scoring opportunities both in transition and in half court," explained Donohue.
DeSantis was an unstoppable force for the Cards, as she paced the team to an 8-2 lead and scored seven answered points by the 17:35 mark.
CUA continued to surge and hold Moravian to single-digit numbers, reaching a 12-point margin shortly after the first media timeout with a score of 17-5 with 14:37 remaining.
Marie Rossignoli kick started the Greyhound's effort to chisel away at the lead, as she netted two free throws and added a three-pointer to bring the Greyhounds within seven points, 17-10.
The Cardinals took another substantial lead with 5:56 remaining, with a 14-7 run before closing out the first half with a lead of 40-28.
While Catholic's numbers remained consistent into the second half of action, Moravian's output improved offensively to outscore CUA 41-35.
"We knew it would be a battle down the stretch," said Donohue. "Moravian is extremely well coached and they are very talented and for the most part we remained poised and executed well."
In the last five minutes of play, the Greyhounds really kicked up their offensive and utilized a total team effort from long range and the charity stripe to turn a 13-point deficit into a six-point, 75-69 loss.
"We opened up pretty good in the second half, but Wright and Marcks were able to get free inside and they had a strong scoring and rebounding presence. We also missed some defensive assignments and Moravian took advantage of that, knocking down some big perimeter shots," said Donohue.
MC's Alexis Wright netted a game-high 24 points, and led the Greyhounds in rebounds with 12 boards for a double-double, in blocks with three and steals with two. Alesha Marcks added 16 points to team's effort.
Statistically, CUA shot 69 percent from the charity stripe (24 of 35), 32 percent from the field (23 of 71) and 26 percent from behind the arc (5 of 19), while Moravian finished the night at 72 percent from the free-throw line (21 of 29), 39 percent from the field (22 of 57) and 25 percent from three-point range (4 of 16).
CUA will hit the road for its next two contests, taking on Gwynedd Mercy on Monday, Dec. 15 and Lebanon Valley on Wednesday, Dec. 17, both games are slated for a 6:00 p.m. start.