Game of the Week: Eastern University Men’s Basketball claims the Battle of Eagle Road…again

By: Will Cunningham

Basketball is back at the Nest, and your Eagles haven’t seemed to skip a beat in the eight months without a home game. Men’s basketball lived up to its expectations on Nov. 15, putting on a clinic against Cabrini in an 86-57 victory. 

As I took a walk past the stands, I witnessed fans screaming for their home team as if they were tied with seconds left of the championship game. For context, there were three minutes left in the warmup of the home opener. Simply put, the people of Eastern showed up in a big way for their squad.

Of course, it wasn’t just Eastern’s section that made noise. Students, families of players and other folks from Cabrini, located just across the street, made the trip down the hill to support the Cavalier’s basketball team. Many of them also attended the women’s game between the two schools prior. Both sides embraced the rivalry known as the Battle of Eagle Road, as fans exchanged words numerous times throughout the contest, and much booing and cheering could be heard amongst the various baskets, calls and other plays made.

As for the game itself, the Eagles’ decided to do an encore of last year’s win. Last year’s victory was headlined by a powerful slam dunk by Jaron Fairweather. Taking motivation from this, to open up the scoring, junior guard Kaeshawn Ward lobbed a perfect pass to first year forward Zubair Lee, who dunked with authority to get the crowd roaring. It became so loud, in fact, that some weren’t able to hear the PA system blasted at full volume.

From that moment on, the Eagles had full control of the game. They never trailed during the match, scored a whopping 50 points in the second half and held Cabrini to just 32% shooting. The defense in particular played an outstanding game, forcing 22 turnovers and only allowing Cabrini to shoot four free throws the entire game. 

As for the offense, the Eagles once again featured a balanced scoring attack throughout the contest. Kaeshawn Ward and Zubair Lee both finished the game with 12 points. Ward added seven assists and three steals, while Lee picked up a steal and two blocks while making 50% of his shot attempts. Senior guard Sam Gallardo also had a strong night, racking up 10 points and a whopping six steals to aid the Eagle’s efforts. Senior forward Jaron Fairweather added nine points and three blocks.

While the starters overall played great, the bench too showed their might and played a significant role in the Eagles’ attack. The bench scored nearly half (40) of Eastern’s 86 points, and they too made some great defensive plays throughout the night. Senior forward Jairus Carroll, junior guard Kevin Reeves and sophomore guard Davin Hernandez each hit a three for Eastern. Carroll also had three steals, while Reeves picked up three blocks.

As great as the players played that night, I would like to give yet another shoutout to our student section. Not only did they show tremendous support and energy at the beginning of the game, but it also carried all the way until the clocks hit zero. Even as Eastern held a 21-point lead with three minutes left, they remained in their seats and watched as players who normally wouldn’t see the court as often get minutes. The hype and energy from the crowd when junior guard Josiah Scarlett hit a three was nearly as equal to the introduction of the lineups, which is a true testament to the camaraderie and support amongst the people of Eastern.

For Eastern, this was their fourth consecutive victory in the Battle of Eagle Road, as well as their fourth overall win of the season. Fans will have two more chances to watch the Eagles live at the Nest. They will face York on Dec. 3 and Widener on Dec. 10 to kick off conference play. Both games are scheduled to start at 3 p.m. If you missed the opportunity to support your Eastern University Eagles during their home opener, be sure to stop by on those dates before the fall semester ends. 

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