Cardinals claim Allegheny Invite crown; Banzhaf named MVP

Cardinals claim Allegheny Invite crown; Banzhaf named MVP

MEADVILLE, Pa. – Senior Jason Banzhaf led four Cardinals in double figures with 19 points as CUA downed Allegheny 72-53 on Sunday afternoon to capture the Allegheny Invitational championship.  Chris Kearney (11), Dan DiVietri (11) and Shawn Holmes (10) also hit for double digits as CUA improves to 2-0 following its opening weekend of action.

For the second straight game CUA shot the ball well, hitting on 49-percent from the field.  The Cardinals did a good job of taking control of the ball as well, committing only 12 turnovers, as compared to 17 for the Gators. 

Banzhaf sank 7 of 12 shots for his game-high 19 points as he earned the tournament Most Valuable Player award, while DiVietri pulled down a game-high nine rebounds and was named to the All-Tournament Team.  Senior R.J. Dixon led the Cardinals with five assists and three steals, while also playing a CUA best 38 minutes.

D'Andre Corbin led two Allegheny players in double figures with 12 points, while James Ness sank 5 of 6 shots en route to 10 tallies.  Donte Briscoe pulled down nine rebounds and as a team the Gators shot 40-percent from the field and 48-percent from downtown. 

After Allegheny scored the game's first points, CUA ran off five straight to take a 5-2 lead.  Several minutes later Dixon hit a three and the Cardinals were in front 8-4. 

A three-pointer by Holmes at the 14:11 mark gave CUA a 13-6 advantage, and Banzhaf's jumper a minute later made it a 15-8 game.  Corbin answered with a trey for the Gators as the home team closed to within 15-11, but Banzhaf came down the other end, hit a short jumper, got fouled, and sank the ensuing free throw to push the Cardinals lead to 18-11 with 11:53 to play in the opening half.

Banzhaf's three-point play began a 9-0 run for CUA with Chris Kearney's jumper at the 8:02 mark increasing the Cardinals advantage to 24-11.  James Ness finally put a stop to the CUA run with a basket at the 7:39 mark, but Dixon came right back and hit a jumper of his own to make it a 13-point game once again.

Allegheny was able to cut CUA's lead under double digits on several occasions as the half moved along, but each time the Cardinals had an answer, including when Holmes hit a three-pointer with 1:22 remaining to make the score 35-23.  Spencer Reed then scored on a drive to the hoop with 48 ticks on the clock to send CUA into halftime with a commanding 37-23 advantage.

A DiVietri layup right out of the gate gave CUA a 39-23 lead just seven seconds into the second half, and that began a 9-0 run by the Cardinals that eventually put them in front by 23, 46-23.

Allegheny got the Cardinals lead down to 16 at the 16:14 mark, but three straight baskets by CUA made it a 22-point affair with 12:52 to play.

Freshman Pete Schramm got inside for a layup at the 9:44 mark to give CUA a 58-35 lead, but the Gators scored 11 of the next 13 points to cut the Cardinals advantage to 14 at 60-46.

As it did all weekend CUA had an answer as the Cardinals responded with four straight to go in front by 18 with 5:29 remaining.  A Holmes jumper with only 10 seconds to go made it a 21-point game, but Corbin hit a jumper down the other end to set the final margin at 19, 72-53.

CUA will be back in action on Tuesday evening when the Cardinals open their home schedule with a game vs. Frostburg State.  Tip-off from inside DuFour Gymnasium is set for 7:30.

In the photo are CUA seniors Ryan Horka, R.J. Dixon, Brian Baker, Jason Banzhaf and Spencer Reed along with Joe Dichristina, Allegheny Dean of Students.  Photo taken by Ed Maillaird.