For more than three seasons, the Cavaliers have been the kings of their court at the Nerney Field House. 44 games had come and gone, all ending in victories.
That incredible streak came to an end in a bitter loss to the Immaculata Mighty Macs on Wednesday, Dec. 5, by a score of 66-60, marking the Cavs’ first home loss since March 8, 2009.
The matchup in the beginning of the game seemed to be more in favor of Immaculata. The Cavaliers quickly announced their presence and regained the lead after being down in the first half.
Just before halftime, Goodman made a three and brought Cabrini back into a tie. Moments later, A.J Williams helped to get the lead before the half with a three-pointer with only 2 minutes left in play for the first half. But at the buzzer, Nelson Torres hit a floating lay-up to cut the Cavs’ lead to one at the break, 29-28.
The Cavaliers shot only 34 percent, 7-for-21 from the three-point line and only 50 percent from the free-throw line.
“They are going to need A.J out there as sort of a quarterback leading the team out on the court,” Greg Williams, father of senior A.J Williams and devoted fan of the Cavaliers said, ”I think that’s what he is going to have to do as a point guard.”
“I think that the team is going to have to really work hard and it’s not going to be easy because I think it is going to be more competitive. A lot of the other teams are hungry and want to beat them since they were nationally ranked. But I have faith that they will pull it off. ”
“We could have improved on foul shooting because we were only 11-for-22,” A.J Williams said, “and the other thing we could have improved on is running our sets and getting into our offense and getting everyone involved.”
The Cavaliers started off strong in the second half and built up an eight-point lead with under eight minutes to play. But as time started to tick away, the Mighty Macs started to narrow the gap.
Immaculata cut the lead to four with five minutes to play and the margin held for another two minutes. With 2:06 remaining, Brandon Smith went to the line for the Mighty Macs shooting two free throws with a chance to tie the game. After making the first, he missed the second but grabbed the rebound and finished a lay-up to give the Mighty Macs the lead.
Fran Rafferty hit a pair of free throws with 1 minute left which brought the score to a close 60-58. After Immaculata answered with three successful free throws, Goodman made a two with 36 seconds left which cut the lead to three. But that was as close as the Cavs would get, as Immaculata added three more free throws to cap the scoring and seal the victory.
“Honestly, I think it just went back to practice yesterday, we kinda came in a little lax, a little too lax,” Rafferty said. “That’s on us as upperclassmen so we can channel it down to the younger freshmen and show them we can’t take any team lightly, especially with the season we had last year, everybody is coming for us.
Cabrini will try to regain momentum in their next conference game against Baptist Bible College on Saturday, Dec. 8, at 3 p.m.
“We have to work hard and continue on and stick together through tough games like that and tonight we just didn’t have that,” Rafferty said. “We just thought that we’ve beat this team in the past, why not do it again this year? We can’t be like that this year. This isn’t the same team as last year. It’s going to be tougher. We’re going to have to grind out games and teams are going to be coming for us. We just have to give it our best shot.”