Cabrini men’s basketball is a program of success. It is clear by the resume this program presents year in and year out.
The Cavs added to that resume by reaching their third straight Sweet 16 with an 84-81 win over Ohio Wesleyan University on Saturday, March 9 in the second-round of the NCAA Division III Tournament.
The Cavs and Battling Bishops traded points in the early stages of the game. The lead never exceeded three points for either team in the first 12 minutes of the game.
As the half drew closer to a close, Ohio Wesleyan started to extend the lead, taking as great as a seven-point advantage.
But with under a minute to play in the half, the Cavs cut the lead down to two by forcing a turnover and getting three foul shots by Fran Rafferty, cutting the score to 39-37 at the half.
The Cavs would finally grab the lead for the first time since the first two minutes of the first half with 14 minutes left in the game on lay-up by DeLeon Floyd. At the halfway point of the second half, the lead was extended to seven on a lay-up by Rafferty.
The Cavs appeared to be in control late, taking an eight-point lead with under five to play. But that would be their largest lead of the game, as an Ohio Wesleyan three-pointer by Taylor Reiger cut the lead back to five just moments later.
As the final minute approached, the Battling Bishops cut the lead down to as little as one but the Cavs would never surrender the lead. Jeremy Knowles hit a huge lay-up with 35 seconds to play that extended the Cavs’ lead back to three. After two free throws reduced the lead to one again, Rafferty missed the back end of two free throws.
With a two-point deficit, the Battling Bishops had a chance to win. But off the inbounds pass out of a timeout, some careless dribbling by Andy Winters, who led Ohio Wesleyan with 22 points, led to a steal by Knowles.
Knowles made two free throws to give the Cavs a comfortable four-point lead but with five seconds to play, the Battling Bishops would get the ball back with a chance to tie with a three. Winters took a deep three and missed well short of the basket and the follow-up chance was not heaved in time, sealing the Cavs’ victory and advancing them to the Sweet 16 for the third straight season.
The Cavs were led by Aaron Walton-Moss and his torrid second half. After netting just five points in the first 20 minutes of play, Walton-Moss finished the game with a game-high 23. He came up just one assist shy of a triple-double, grabbing 13 rebounds and adding nine assists.
Rafferty also continued his recent hot streak adding 19 points and grabbing seven boards. Floyd came off the bench to score 14 points as well.
The Cavs’ Sweet 16 matchup will be a rematch. Two seasons ago, the Cavs were eliminated by the College of Wooster on their way to a national championship run and runner-up finish. This match will not only bring the two back together but also put the two most recent runners-up in the Division III Tournament against each other. The game will be at the College of Wooster in Wooster, Oh., on Saturday, March 16, at a time to be announced.