WASHINGTON, D.C. – The University of Scranton men's basketball team (9-4, 1-1 Landmark) cut the deficit to one with just over 11 minutes to play in the second half, but ultimately fell short in an 80-59 setback at the hands of the Catholic University Cardinals (13-0, 2-0 Landmark) on Saturday afternoon at Franny Murray Court in Washington, D.C.
Senior Stephen Braunstein* (Colts Neck, N.J./Christian Brothers Academy) hit consecutive jumpers to bring Scranton within one at 49-48 with 11:13 to go, but the Cardinals answered with an 18-5 run over the next four plus minutes to take control of the game.
Both teams struggled offensively in the first few minutes of the contest as Braunstein opened the scoring at the 17:59 mark of the first half and things were tied at eight apiece with 14:47 remaining in the opening stanza. Catholic's Sean Neylon then scored eight straight points as part of a 12-4 run that resulted in a 20-12 Cardinals lead before the Royals battled back to cut the lead to five at 27-22 behind five straight points from freshman Jon Spatola (Marlboro, N.J./Marlboro). Over the final 2:42 of the first half, graduate student Jackson Danzig* (Clarks Green, Pa./Abington Heights) and sophomore Will McLoughlin (Glen Rock, N.J./Glen Rock) combined to go a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line to draw the Royals back within a basket at 30-28 headed into the locker room.
The Cardinals then scored the first eight points of the second half to open up a 38-28 advantage, but Scranton would not go quietly and Danzig converted a three-point play to begin a 20-11 stretch that was capped off by Braunstein's afore-mentioned jumpers that sliced the lead to one. However, Catholic responded with the 18-4 run as a pair of Jesse Hafemeister free throws made it 67-53 with exactly seven minutes to play and the Royals were unable to get any closer than 12 the rest of the way.
Danzig and McLoughlin scored 14 apiece to pace Scranton and Braunstein added 10 of his own as the third Royal in double figures. Danzig also posted his fifth nine-rebound effort over the last six contests.
Neylon led all scorers with a game-high 25 points on 9-of-12 shooting, while Tommy Kelly contributed 16 and Hafemeister had 15 for the Cardinals.
The Royals were 20-of-52 (38.5%) from the floor, 3-of-11 (27.3%) from deep and 16-of-22 (72.7%) from the free throw line. For Catholic, the hosts shot 44.8% (26-of-58) from the field, 42.3% (11-of-26) from long range and 89.5% (17-of-19) on free throws.
Scranton will look to bounce back on Tuesday at Susquehanna in a key Landmark battle at 7 p.m. in Selinsgrove.