CUA uses strong second half to earn first-ever win at Moravian
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – CUA trailed Moravian by nine at halftime on Friday evening, but the Cardinals outscored the Greyhounds 39-24 in the final 20 minutes to earn a 70-64 win. The victory is CUA's first-ever at Johnston Hall and lifts the Cardinals record to 14-7 overall and 6-4 in the Landmark. Moravian falls to 13-8 and 8-2 in the league.
"It's a huge win for the program," CUA Head Coach Matt Donohue said. "We've been up here on several trips in my brief time at Catholic and haven't been able to put forth the effort necessary to beat a team like this, the defending conference champion. It's a huge win for us, a huge win for these kids."
After taking a 40-31 lead into halftime, Moravian maintained at least a seven-point advantage for the first five minutes of the second half. With 14:11 on the clock, CUA unleashed a 10-0 run that was capped by a Katarina Owunna layup, which put the Cardinals on top 48-46.
With the score tied at 50, CUA scored five straight points to jump ahead 55-50 with 10:25 to play, and Liz Briones' three with 7:02 remaining then gave the Cardinals a 60-53 advantage.
Moravian's Amy Heffner hit a jumper with exactly three minutes to play to bring the Greyhounds within 64-60, but Owunna answered down the other end for CUA to extend to a six-point lead.
Owunna hit another basket, this one coming with 1:20 on the clock to put the Cardinals ahead 68-62, and Jill Woerner's pair of free throws with 33.5 seconds to go sealed the big road win for CUA.
Donohue spoke of CUA's big second half run that gave the Cardinals the lead. "On the defensive end, it was just a matter of getting our hands off of the people we were defending, protecting the paint, proper rotations, playing the passing lanes," he explained. "On the offensive end, we started really attacking the basket much better in the second half, and we got Katarina Owunna involved in a big way. She really gave us a huge presence and that opened things up for our guards on the perimeter."
Donohue continued, "I think it was just being patient and poised on the offensive end, attacking the rim, attacking the paint, getting our bigs involved inside."
Woerner registered a double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds for CUA, while Owunna added 15 points and Jenny McGann scored 11. Senior Kerri Confrey handed out 10 assists, and as a team CUA pulled down 56 rebounds, including 23 on the offensive end, while Moravian totaled only 38 rebounds.
Amy Heffner (15) and Emily Smith (13) scored in double digits for the Greyhounds, and that pair led the home team in rebounding with seven apiece.
The Cardinals forced Moravian into 24 turnovers and scored 24 points off those miscues.
Donohue was pleased to see his young team - 11 of the 15 players are freshmen or sophomores - come through when the outcome was still in doubt. "The only way you learn how to win a game like this is by actually getting it done," the Cardinals coach said.
"That's what's really nice to see. We've been in this type of spot in the past this season against really high-quality teams and we haven't been able to close the door, so to come out and put forth that effort and hit free throws down the stretch, make big stops and stay poised and composed, that really is nice to see. Hopefully we can go forth from here and build upon this victory."
Moravian scored the game's first five points, but CUA answered with seven of the next nine to tie things at seven with 17:09 on the first half clock. The Greyhounds led 12-9 with 15:24 to play before halftime, but CUA scored the game's next eight points to surge in front 17-12 with 11:44 to go.
The Greyhounds retook the lead on a pair of free throws by Ericka Blair with 9:25 remaining in the half, and they proceeded to score 10 of the next 11 to take a 30-20 lead with 6:51 to go.
CUA got to within 33-29 on Woerner's bucket with 4:17 on the clock, but Moravian scored five straight to take a 38-29 lead with 1:53 left in the half.
Following a Briones basket with 55 ticks on the clock, Amanda Kreuder made two free throws for Moravian to propel the Greyhounds into intermission with a 40-31 advantage.
The Cardinals wrap up their weekend with a trip to Scranton on Saturday afternoon. CUA and the Royals will tip off their game at 2 p.m.