Second Half Surge Gives CUA the CAC
Cardinals receive automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament
FREDERICK, Md. - Catholic University (22-5) scored 51 points in the second half to come back and beat the Hood Blazers, 85-75, (21-7) Saturday evening in the Capital Athletic Conference championship game at Gov. Thomas Johnson High School. CUA overcame a seven-point halftime deficit to beat the top-seeded Blazers and receive the league's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. The win also marked CUA's seventh conference championship, giving them the most in the league, as well as the third time they have won it back to back seasons.
Hood started out strong fueled by a trio of three's from leading scorer Ryan Junghans just five minutes in. The Cards were looking at an early ten-point deficit but were able to chip away at it and get it back to single digits before going into the locker room down 41-34. This was the eighth time that CUA has been down at the break but the squad has been a second half team this season winning on six of those occasions.
Patrick Dwyer (Williamsburg, Va./Walsingham Academy) was the leading scorer in the first with 11 points including a 3-3 performance beyond the arc. Center Stephen Wheeler (Silver Spring, Md./Good Counsel) added eight points and a team-high six rebounds as well as three blocks including a huge rejection on Hood's first possession of the game. Hood outrebounded Catholic University 22-14 and outshot them 48.6 percent to 43.3.
Down nine early in the second half, the Cardinals finally put some offense together going on an 10-0 run that included clutch three's from Scott Fumai (Rockville, Md./Good Counsel) and Mike Wasilenko (Washington Township, N.J./Don Bosco Prepas well as a pair of layups courtesy of Wheeler. The run also gave CUA its first lead of the game at 16:23, but it wouldn't stay that way as the Blazers kept hitting big shots to take it back. After five ties in the half the Cardinals gained an advantage at 6:34 when Dwyer hit back to back three's putting CUA up six. With the clock winding down the Cardinals defense came up with a number of big stops to keep the lead and force Hood to foul. In the final three minutes CUA was 10-12 from the line managing to keep the lead and come away with the 85-75 win.
Dwyer led CUA with 25 points and was 6-7 from three for the evening notching a season high in three's made for the Cards. Fumai had 17 points and nine rebounds while Wheeler and Wasilenko added 14 apiece. The Cards shot 60 percent in the second half giving them a game total of 50.9 percent to Hood's 39.7. The Blazers did control the boards 40-33.
CUA has automatically qualified for the NCAA tournament and the remaining at large bids will be announced Sunday. Pairings will come out Monday morning.