Defense, balanced offense carry No. 9 CUA past Mariners 74-57

Defense, balanced offense carry No. 9 CUA past Mariners 74-57

WASHINGTON - Behind a strong defensive performance that forced Merchant Marine Academy (8-5, 1-3) into 38-percent shooting and 20 turnovers, No. 9 CUA downed the Mariners 74-57 on Saturday evening inside the DuFour Center.  The Cardinals (12-1, 2-0) received a game-high 20 points from sophomore Steve Limberiou, including four 3-pointers, and all five CUA starters reached double digits.

CUA turned those 20 USMMA turnovers into 19 points en route to the victory.  The Cards also did a nice job at the free throw line, sinking 15 of 19 attempts (78.9-percent).

A 3-pointer by Reed Buck during the early going gave the Mariners a 14-7 lead on CUA, but back-to-back baskets by Limberiou pulled the Cards to within three with 12:11 to play before halftime.

A 3-pointer by Limberiou a minute later gave CUA its first lead of the night at 17-16, but Nick Sergio got inside for a layup down the other end to give the Mariners an 18-17 lead.

An old-fashioned three-point play by Shawn Holmes gave the lead back to CUA, and the Cardinals then proceeded to score eight of the next 10 points to surge in front 30-22.

Kyle Phanord got into the long distance act for the Cards, knocking down a three with 6:08 left in the half, giving CUA a double-digit lead.

A jumper by Limberiou late in the half put CUA on top by 13, before a USMMA free throw made it a 12-point game at the break.

CUA scored the first five points in the second half to open up a 17-point bulge, but Preston Padgett's 3-pointer pulled the Mariners to within 14.

The lead reached 19 on Nate Koenig's trifecta with 8:01 on the clock, but USMMA responded with a 9-3 run to pull within 13 with 5:23 remaining.

Like it had done all evening, CUA answered the run once again, this time coming up with six straight to go back on top by 19.

CUA knocked down seven 3-pointers in the game and recorded 11 steals.  Fonville had another strong game at the point, totaling seven assists, five steals and only one turnover in 38 minutes of action, while Koenig led the way with seven rebounds.

Buck finished with a team-high 15 points for the Mariners, while Padgett added nine.

CUA will now hit the road for its next game when the Cardinals head to Pennsylvania on Wednesday evening for a 7 p.m. tip at Juniata.