On Feb. 18, Eastern’s rivalry against the Cabrini Cavaliers heated up as the men’s basketball team traveled across Eagle Road to battle. Last time the teams faced off, it took overtime for the Eagles to win. This time the game ended in regulation but not in Eastern’s favor. Senior Brent Williams’ 15 points off the bench were not enough for the Eagles as they fell to Cabrini 66-63.
“Coming off the bench has been my job the second half of the season,” Williams said. “I just want to make things happen when I am in the game.”
A win against Cabrini would have guaranteed a playoff spot in the PAC tournament.
“We threw away a couple of games this year,” Williams said.
In the Cabrini game, senior Matt Flanagan’s three pointer just a few seconds into the game gave the Eastern squad a quick shot of morale. Williams then extended the Eagles’ lead by five with 8:22 remaining in the first half with a tough layup in the lane.
The Cavs’ leading scorer Charles Bush answered Williams’ attack with a layup of his own to keep Cabrini close.
After the Cavs’ tough defense helped them to take the lead, senior David Volpe made a three pointer with 2:18 left in the first half to tie the game at 27. Cabrini answered the seesaw battle with a Glenn Washington layup to send the score tied at 29 into intermission.
“We didn’t capitalize off of their mistakes which hurt us in the long run,” first-year guard Derek Wright said. The Eagles shot only 38 percent from the floor in the first half.
“We all missed layups while not shooting a great percentage from the field as a team,” Williams said.
The Cavs started the second half on a 6-0 run, putting Eastern down early in the second half. Sharpshooter Flanagan brought the Eagle’s energy back with a three pointer with 12:43 remaining in the second to cut the Cavs lead. Eastern finally took the lead for the first time in the half with a tough Williams’ jumper with 8:51 to go.
Bush capped a Cabrini 8-0 run with a fast break layup with 2:54 remaining. A Volpe layup with 43 seconds to go cut the Cavs lead to one; but the Eagles couldn’t rebound from the big Cabrini run and watched their opponents sink their free throws with seconds left on the clock.
“We have had opportunity after opportunity to really take teams out of games,” Sophomore Jason Reels said about the season.
The Eagles stayed alive in the PAC during the month of January, going 6-1 against PAC opponents, including a five-game winning streak. However, after a heartbreaking one-point loss to Immaculata on Feb. 21, the Eagles watched their playoff dreams die. Less than two weeks earlier, Eastern had dethroned the number one ranked Macs in a home victory, but they could not repeat their previous success.
“I think we have gained much confidence from game one to the end, and we know what we are capable of,” Wright said. “I would sum up the season as a big learning process.”