No. 18/19 Cardinals hold off Scranton rally, improve to 16-1

No. 18/19 Cardinals hold off Scranton rally, improve to 16-1

WASHINGTON – They weathered the storm.

The Catholic University women's basketball team saw its once 17-point lead dwindle to six before responding in resounding fashion in a 66-50 victory over the University of Scranton at DuFour Center on Saturday afternoon.

The Cardinals, ranked 18th nationally in one poll and 19th in another, improved to 16-1 and 5- 1 in the Landmark Conference. It was their largest margin of victory ever over the Royals (12-5, 4-2).

Katarina Owunna led CUA with 17 points and a season-high 15 rebounds. Jill Woerner added 16 points, nine boards, three assists and three blocks, and Jenny McGann had 11 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals.  With her 16 points, Woerner moved into sole possession of fourth on the school's all-time scoring list with 1,361 career points.

Point guard Emily Grabiak ran the Cardinal offense to the tune of nine points, seven rebounds and nine assists. The Cards dominated on the boards, 54-35, and held Scranton to 3 of 24 shooting from 3-point range and 19 of 66 (28.8 percent) overall.

After Woerner bounced in a 3-pointer to give the Cardinals a 43-30 lead with 13:07 to go, the Royals put together a 7-0 run to trim the deficit to six. CUA, on the strength of its full-court pressure and backcourt traps, was able to unsettle the Royals and score 10 straight points in a 13-2 run.

Owunna, a 6-foot senior forward, capped the flurry by scoring inside and completing the three-point play to put the Cardinals firmly in command, 57-39, with 6:39 left. Scranton never got closer than 13 points the rest of the way in a game CUA never trailed.

Meredith Mesaris, from nearby Fairfax, Va., led the Royals with 15 points on 6 of 10 shooting. Lia Disciascio contributed eight points, and Erin Boggan had six points, six rebounds and two blocks. Lindsay Fluehr added five assists.

CUA looked crisp in the first half, holding Scranton to 8 of 33 shooting (24.2 percent) and just 1 of 10 from beyond the arc. Leading 10-6 on a driving layup by McGann, the Cardinals unleashed a 22-5 blitz to go ahead, 32-15 with 5:02 to play. Woerner had six points during the outburst, and Grabiak punctuated it with a steal and pass to McGann for a layup.

The Royals scored the final six points of the half and went into the break trailing, 32-21.

The Cards play at Goucher College on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Written by Chris McManes