The Cavaliers men’s basketball team defeated the Keystone College Giants by a score of 86-79 to win the Colonial States Athletic Conference championship at the Nerney Field House on Friday, Feb. 24.
The win is the Cavaliers’ third consecutive CSAC title and their 11th overall. The win sends them to the NCAA Tournament where they will take on Castleton State College in the tournament’s opening round on Friday, March 2, at 7:30 p.m.
“We’re so proud of our men’s basketball team,” Dr. Marie Angelella George, president of Cabrini College, said. “Three years in a row is just awesome.”
After winning the opening tip-off, the Giants got off to a fast start, going on a 7-0 scoring run. However, business picked up for the Cavaliers and the game was tied at 11.
The Cavaliers did not take their first lead of the game until the 5:45 mark of the first half, courtesy of a three-point field goal by senior guard John Boyd.
With a little under two minutes left on the clock, Keystone held on to a seemingly insurmountable eight-point lead. However, a Cavalier rally brought them to within one point to close out the first half. When the buzzer sounded, Keystone held on to a slim 38-37 lead.
During the second half, the Cavaliers came out with authority. Strong play from players such as freshman guard Aaron Walton-Moss helped the Cavaliers maintain a small but steady lead. However, with 6:21 left on the clock, Keystone regained the lead, with the Cavaliers tying it up moments later.
With less than five minutes left in the game, sophomore forward Fran Rafferty gave the Cavaliers a one-point lead off of a three-point field goal. Rafferty then proceeded to draw a charging foul, giving the Cavaliers possession of the ball. In one of the more critical mistakes that the Giants made all game, senior guard Cory Lemons was left wide-open to make a three-point shot, putting the Cavaliers up by four.
As the clock dwindled down to 100 seconds, the Giants began fouling in order to try and get the ball back to take the lead. Time expired and the Cavaliers were once again champions in a true clash of titans.
With 18 points, 18 rebounds and three assists, Walton-Moss was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
“I think I played really good today but it’s a team sport at the end of the day,” Walton-Moss said.
In his four seasons as head coach, Marcus Kahn has coached the Cavaliers to four CSAC championship games and three wins.
“It’s what we worked so hard for from the beginning of October till now, to get to this game,” Kahn said.
This was the third meeting between the Cavaliers and Giants this season. The first game was a thriller from Dec. 3, in which Boyd scored his 1000th career college point and scored the game winning basket with 1.3 seconds on the clock en route to a 95-92 Cavalier victory.
The second came just nine days ago, when the Cavaliers defeated the Giants by a score of 96-85 to close out the regular season and seal an undefeated record in the CSAC.
“[The Giants] are a good team, they’re our toughest competition we played all year,” Kahn said.
The Cavaliers were led in points by junior guard Jeremy Knowles, who scored 20 points. Walton-Moss’ 18 rebounds led the team and Lemons’ nine assists were good enough for a team-high.
With the NCAA Tournament close to beginning, several players, such as Walton-Moss, are eagerly anticipating the challenge.
“[We want to] win the Final Four,” Walton-Moss said. “We’re ready for Virginia.”
This article was updated on Wednesday, Feb. 29.