For the first time in school history, the Cabrini Cavaliers will be playing in the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Division III tournament.
The Cavs defeated the Eastern Connecticut State University Warriors by a final score of 72-65 on Friday, March 9, at the Pepin Gymnasium in Middlebury, Vt. The win was Cabrini’s 20th straight and improved their overall record in 2011-2012 to 29-1.
“We got to handle the ball a little bit better but from start to finish our effort was there,” head coach Marcus Kahn told Cabrini sports information director David Howell following the game. “They executed the game plan exactly how we wanted them to.”
“It’s a big win, it’s well-deserved, he [Kahn] had us well-prepared for the game,” Cory Lemons, senior guard, said after the game.
The Cavaliers were led in scoring by freshman guard Aaron Walton-Moss, who scored 15 points and added 14 rebounds. Lemons added 12 points and five assists while senior guard John Boyd put up 13 points.
The Cavs and Warriors went into halftime with the score 29-23 in Cabrini’s favor. Cabrini shot 38.7 percent from the floor in the first half while ECSU shot 33.3 percent.
In the second half, Cabrini expanded their lead to 17 points in hopes of putting the game out of reach. However, ECSU fought back and only trailed by four points with 17 seconds remaining in the game. Senior guard Nick Nedwick led the Warriors with 31 points and was the only ECSU player to tally double-digit points in the game.
“In the second half, we opened it up a little bit and that’s where we took our run and took a big lead,” Kahn said.
The Cavaliers also received significant contributions from junior guard A.J. Williams and sophomore forward Fran Rafferty. Williams was one of four Cavaliers to score double-digit points in the game and finished with 14. Rafferty collected five rebounds and scored seven points in 20 minutes of action.
As monumental as the win was for the team, it was even more special for Kahn. In his fourth year as the head coach of the men’s basketball program, Kahn earned his 100th victory in the game against ECSU. He is the second men’s basketball coach in Cabrini history to reach 100 career wins. John Dzik, who finished his career with an astounding 483 wins, is the other coach.
“It’s a great statement for Cabrini and our basketball program and where we are now,” Kahn said about his 100th coaching victory. “To be able to do that in four years time is a good thing and it’s no secret that it’s all about having the right players.”
Cabrini won’t have to wait long to play in their first ever Elite Eight game. The Cavs will take on the University of Scranton on Saturday, March 10, at 7 p.m. Once again, the game will be played at the Pepin Gymnasium.
This will be the second meeting between Cabrini and Scranton this season. The Cavs edged the Royals by a score of 71-68 at the Nerney Field House on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2011.
Did you use the hashtag #GoCabrini on Friday night? If so, your tweet may be featured in this Storify story.