The past week has been one for the record books for the Cabrini College women’s basketball program. From winning the Pennsylvania Athletic Conference Championship, to a trip to the National Collegic Athletic Association Division III Tournament and an eventual fall to No. 5 Messiah College is only one bit of an astounding season for the Cavaliers.
The week began with a semi-final match against Misericordia University on Wendesday, Feb. 27. The Cougars, who tallied a victory against the Cavaliers in the regular season at their place, 54-45, now faced the Lady Cavs on their home court under their terms.
The grueling two-and-a-half bus ride from Dallas, Pa. was now working against them. The ride down had little affect on the Cougars as they put up an all-round offense and defense and kept the Cavaliers at a relative five-point deficit for most of the game.
However, in the last few minutes of regulation time, the Cavaliers pulled ahead, and right at the buzzer sophomore point guard Deana DiAmico sent in a last-minute three-point shot to send the game into overtime and kept the Cavaliers fight for the conference title alive.
Cabrini pulled off a 57-49 victory over Misericordia, setting up a rematch with Gwynedd-Mercy College on Saturday, March1.
Last year around the same time the Cavaliers went head to head with the Griffins, and after what was considered an all-out war on the court, lost 68-60.
This year would be yet another war, however, with a different outcome.
“We knew we could play with them and beat them,” women’s head coach Bobbi Morgan said. “I think we were confident but until we finally win one against them, you have that little bit of doubt. We were ready to beat them. We had learned a lot from the losses this year and to them in the finals last year.”
Junior English and communication major Nikki Duggan said, “The ongoing rivalry with us and them is so strong so we went into that game with determination that we were not leaving their gym without a win.”
“Going into the Gwynedd rematch was an incredible feeling because no one thought we could win,” junior English and communication major Brittany McLeod said. “We felt this was a great position to be in simply because it made us want to fight even harder and to get such an upset would be the best feeling in the world.”
The message was clear that day: The Lady Cavaliers were coming out of that game with the Conference title and nothing was going to stand in their way.
Back-to-back three-pointers from Cabrini in the first half helped erase a 21-20 Gwynedd-Mercy lead, where the Cavaliers would stretch their lead to as much as nine, with just over two minutes in the stanza.
Two Griffins players would hit two times from the line to cut the deficit to 37-32 at the break.
Sophomore Deana DiAmico was named the conference championship’s Most Valuable Player after scoring 12 points and adding five rebounds. DiAmico converted one of two free throws with less than 20 seconds remaining in the contest to set the final margin and scored all 12 of her points in the second half including a decisive three-pointer with 2:17 left to give the Cavaliers the lead for good.
The last 12 seconds of the game proved to be the best showing of the Cavalier’s defensive expertise as they held Gwynedd point guard Karen Tierney down to prevent her from shooting off what would have been a game-winning three-point shot.
The Lady Cavaliers had accomplished what they had planned to do all along, win the PAC and avenge last year’s loss.
“Winning the PAC was the best feeling in the world,” Brady said.”And beating Gwynedd on their home court was even better. We had a bad taste in our mouths from last year and this year we wanted to be the one’s holding the plaque at the end.”
McLeod said, “The rivalry between Cabrini and GMC has grown so much and to beat them on their court and as a No. 2 seed was unforgettable. It was more than just a game that night; it was an opportunity to prove everyone wrong because people were saying we didn’t have enough heart to win. It was definitely nerve racking but we came in there with a mission and stayed focused for 40 minutes.”
Going into the game against Messiah College was a challenge for the Cavaliers.
We felt after seeing them on tape we could play with them but they were outstanding,” Coach Morgan said. “We didn’t play our best but we played hard.”
“It seemed in the first half that they couldn’t miss and we were having trouble finishing. I think we came out stronger in the second half and proved ourselves that we weren’t going to leave without giving our all,” Duggan said.
On Friday, March 7, the season came to a close with a 63-34 loss to Messiah in the first round of the NCAA tournament. But not without giving what can be considered by all Cabrini fans in attendance a fight to the finish against the Falcons.
Not a minute went by in the second half where the Cavaliers attempted to close the gap. After allowing Messiah to score 40 points in the first, the Cavaliers upped their efforts and cut their scoring in half in the second. Junior English and communication major and forward Kayleen Smith led the Cavaliers that final night with 10 points, while sophomore psychology major and guard Kate Walck contributed five points of her own. The Lady Cavaliers played valiantly down to the last second.
The Lady Cavs have had a season marked with memories. A season in review will be published the middle of next week highlighting the past season that will be available on www.cabriniathletics.com under the women’s basketball tab.
This week has been one for Cabrini Athletics and Cabrini women’s basketball history.