TOWSON, Md. — Goucher could have done itself and six other teams in the Landmark Conference a big favor tonight by knocking off Catholic, which entered the Decker Sports & Recreation Center in sole possession of first place. But the Cardinals, who trailed by as many as four points in the opening six minutes of the contest, stormed back to assume an 11-point lead by the end of the first half and went on to earn an 86-76 victory over head coach Leonard Trevino's squad.
The win keeps Catholic alone atop the standings, one game in front of Scranton, which defeated Moravian, 73-65, tonight. The Gophers (7-11, 2-5 Landmark), who dropped to eighth place, are now four full games behind the Cardinals (12-6, 6-1 Landmark).
With Jesse Mondry (Medford, Ore./South Medford) nailing two shots from 3-point range and Alex Noble (Clinton, Md./Surrattsville) connecting once from long distance, Goucher enjoyed a 9-5 lead less than three minutes into the contest, but Catholic went ahead to stay on a short jumper by Bryson Fonville that made the score 13-12 with 13:19 remaining in the first half. Still, it wasn't Corey Stanford's layup with 4:02 left to play in the period that the separation between the two teams reached double digits as it put the Cardinals ahead 37-27.
A 3-pointer by Kyle Phanord closed out the scoring in the first half, changing the score to 45-34 in favor of Catholic.
Cody Toler (Laurel, Md./Reservoir), who never entered the game for Goucher in the opening 20 minutes, provided a spark when he was pressed into duty two minutes into the second half. In a span of less than five minutes, he landed a trio of 3-pointers, and the third one made it a seven-point game at 58-51. The Gophers were still within striking distance midway through the period before a pair of made 3-pointers by Steve Limberiou on back-to-back possessions bumped the Cardinals' lead up to 71-56.
Stanford led all scorers as he turned in a 27-point, eight-rebound performance. Limberiou contributed 20 points to the victory, making this the sixth time this season that the Gophers have allowed two opposing players to score at least 20 points in a game.
Noble was the leading scorer and rebounder for Goucher as he finished with 19 points and nine boards. He was also credited with six assists and one steal.
Mondry supplied the Gophers with 17 points as he was 7-for-10 from the field and 3-for-6 on 3-point tries. Julian Livingston (Bowie, Md./Fairmont Heights) and Brian Morton II (Ellicott City, Md./Mount St. Joseph) added 13 and 11 points, respectively.
After a 12-for-33 shooting effort (.364) in the first half, Goucher improved to 15-for-28 (.536) over the final 20 minutes.
For Catholic, the only opponent Goucher has played at least once each season in the 24-year history of its men's basketball program, tonight's win was its 12th straight over the Gophers.
The Gophers continue a three-game homestand when they welcome Moravian to the Decker Sports & Recreation Center this Saturday at 5 p.m.