CUA drops a 68-66 heartbreaker to Merchant Marine Academy

CUA drops a 68-66 heartbreaker to Merchant Marine Academy

WASHINGTON – CUA dropped a 68-66 heartbreaker to Merchant Marine Academy on Saturday on Senior Day.  Jared Prince grabbed a rebound off a missed Mariners free throw with three seconds remaining and launched a full-court shot that was just off the mark as time expired.

CUA honored its two-man senior class prior to Saturday's tip-off.  Darrell Carroll and Andy Roell were joined by family and friends as well as CUA Head Coach Steve Howes in an on-court presentation that took place just before the start of the contest.

The final few minutes of the game featured plenty of tight moments and back-and-forth basketball.  Carroll fed Chris Kearney with a terrific pass with 4:11 to play that Kearney slammed down to knot the score at 59.

Following a missed jumper by USMMA's Kevin Kerr, Shawn Holmes was fouled and sank 1 of 2 free throws to put the Cardinals ahead by one.

Denver Effland converted a three-point play for Merchant Marine down the other end though, and the visitors took a two-point lead with 3:19 remaining.

The teams continued to go back-and-forth, with Billy Donovan sinking a pair at the line to tie the score yet again. 

A Nate Koenig free throw and Kearney jumper then put the Cardinals in front by three with 2:17 to play, but Reed Buck responded with back-to-back jumpers for the visitors to give the Mariners a 66-65 advantage with 1:12 on the clock.

Koenig missed a 3-pointer on CUA's next possession, but the Cardinals still had plenty of time to force a USMMA miss and potentially win the game.  CUA got its wish when Kerr's jumper with 11 seconds remaining was off the mark, but Kerr was able to get his own rebound. 

Michael Farace was eventually fouled and he stepped to the line with seven ticks to go.  Farace sank the first shot to make it a two-point Mariners lead and following a CUA timeout, he sank the second free throw.

Down three, CUA quickly advanced the ball up the court, but USMMA decided to not let the Cardinals get off a potential game-tying shot and fouled Holmes.

The junior guard then calmly sank the first attempt to make it a two-point game.  Holmes missed the second free throw on purpose, but CUA was unable to corral the rebound, and Farace came down with the miss.

Farace's front end of a one-and-one was off the mark though, and that set the stage for Prince's 94-foot heave that nearly dropped through the net and left the DuFour Center crowd speechless.

Koenig led a trio of Cardinals in double figures with 18 points, while Carroll scored 13 and Donovan added 11.

CUA sank nine 3-pointers on the day, which is its highest total since draining 15 at Richard Stockton in December.  The Cardinals committed only eight turnovers and they handed out 16 assists on 20 field goals. 

Buck netted a team-high 15 points for the visitors, and he was joined in double figures by Effland (13), Kerr (13) and Nick Sergio (12).  USMMA committed only nine turnovers and finished with 19 assists on 27 made baskets.

CUA had a slow start to the game, falling behind 12-0 in the opening six minutes, but the Cardinals battled back, getting to within two points on Prince's free throw at the 10:24 mark. 

A 3-pointer by Prince with 2:44 to play before halftime again made it a two-point game, and Koenig's trifecta with 36 seconds on the clock sent the Cardinals into halftime down by just three.

CUA returns to action on Friday, February 10 when the Cardinals travel to Huntingdon, Pa. to face Juniata.  Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.