WASHINGTON – The Cardinals bounced back from their first loss of the season with a hard-fought, down-to-the-wire 61-58 victory over Gettysburg (4-4) on Saturday afternoon. CUA trailed by two with 1:11 remaining, but outscored the Bullets 5-0 down the stretch to improve to 7-1 on the season.
Seniors R.J. Dixon and Jason Banzhaf led CUA with 17 points apiece on the day, while Andy Roell and Shawn Holmes both scored six. The Cardinals shot 44 percent overall, including a 47 percent showing from three-point range (7-15), and they sank 10 of 11 free throws.
Roell led the home team with seven boards, while Dixon handed out a team-best five helpers and also recorded three steals. CUA turned the ball over only 10 times and got 11 points from its bench, to just four by the Bullets.
Four Gettysburg players hit for double figures, including Andrew Powers (17), Stephen Poarch (13), Kevin Kennedy (10) and Alex Zurn (10). The Bullets shot an even 50 percent from the floor, but struggled mightily at the foul line, sinking only 13 of 23 attempts (56.5%). Powers pulled down seven rebounds to lead the visitors and Poarch was the team leader in assists with six.
As would be the case all afternoon, the teams were nearly even during the early going, with CUA grabbing a 6-5 lead following a Banzhaf layup with 16:37 on the first half clock. The lead grew to 11-5 after Roell nailed a three-pointer, prompting Gettysburg to call a timeout.
Following the stoppage, the Bullets ran off six straight to tie things at 11, but CUA scored eight of the next 10, including a three from freshman Billy Donovan at the 9:54 mark to go in front 19-13.
Poarch's jumper at the 4:23 mark pulled Gettysburg to within two at 21-19, but Roell answered down the other end with a trifecta to put the Cardinals in front by five.
A Christian Bors layup followed by a pair of Powers free throws made it a one-point game at 24-23 with 2:03 remaining in the half, but CUA scored three straight to take a late four-point lead. Zurn drilled a three just as time expired though, and the teams headed for the locker room with CUA up just one, 27-26.
A Zurn layup right out of the blocks in the second half put the visitors up by one, but Banzhaf answered with a bucket of his own to give the lead back to the Cardinals.
With the score tied at 35 with 13:59 to play CUA reeled off seven straight, including back-to-back threes from Dixon, which forced Gettysburg to call a timeout. The Bullets then came back and got to within two on a three-point play by Zurn with 11:23 to play.
A three from Nate Koenig followed by two Banzhaf free throws with 8:50 remaining gave CUA a seven-point cushion, but again the Bullets came back, pulling to within three at 51-48 with 7:17 to play.
Powers' jumper with just over three to go made it a two-point game, 56-54, while Poarch's layup a little over a minute later tied things at 56, setting up an exciting finish.
With 1:11 remaining Poarch stepped to the foul line and sank a pair to put the Bullets in front 58-56, but that would prove to be Gettysburg's final points.
CUA came down the other end and following a missed jumper by Dixon, Banzhaf grabbed the rebound, made the putback, got fouled and hit the ensuing free throw to give the Cardinals a 59-58 advantage.
Following a defensive stop by CUA, Holmes got fouled and after he hit a pair the Cardinals were up by three, 61-58. Gettysburg had one final chance to try and force overtime, but CUA's defense stood tall, forcing a turnover as the final seconds ticked off the clock.
In all the game was tied six times, there were nine lead changes and neither team was able to open up more than a seven-point lead.
The Cardinals return to action on Monday, December 13 when they play host to Stockton College inside DuFour Gymnasium. Tip-off is set for 7:30. The game was originally slated to begin at 7:00, but recently got moved to 7:30.