By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – If you are looking for a great local college basketball game to check out on Wednesday night, you need look no further than Radnor where a couple of Division III rivals will battle as Cabrini College hosts Gwynedd-Mercy College.
These two teams are 1-2 in the Colonial States Athletic Conference. Cabrini leads the way with a 13-2 conference mark (17-5 overall) while the Griffins are just a game and a half behind them with an 11-3 conference ledger (12-9 overall).
Cabrini went to the national championship game a season ago, falling three points short of winning it all. This season the Cavaliers started off a pedestrian 4-3, that included a loss to Immaculata which snapped a 44-game home winning streak. But since then the Cavs are 13-2 and they bring a six-game winning streak into this game.
“I think we’re starting to figure out who we are,” Cabrini head coach Marcus Kahn tells KYW Newsradio. “We’ve been a work in progress all year long, some new additions that we’ve been counting on more than we had to worry about over the previous couple of years. I think we’re just now hitting our stride with getting everybody on the same page and I think that’s really helped us give us a little bit of momentum here the last couple of weeks. And we’re playing teams now for the second time as we go around here in the conference, so we’re more familiar and that makes our preparation a little bit better.”
Cabrini is led by sophomore guard and all-around threat Aaron Walton-Moss. A huge piece of last season’s run to the finals, the 6’1″ Walton-Moss is averaging 13.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists a game.
Gwynedd-Mercy is enjoying their success with a roster that is top heavy with underclassmen.
“We actually have a lot of freshmen on our team (seven) and they are gelling together,” Gwynedd-Mercy head coach John Baron tells KYW Newsradio. “At Christmastime we decided to call them sophomores, they’ve played a lot of minutes already, and hopefully they understand the importance of this game.”
Baron says he also has a couple of seniors in forward Frank Champion and guard Brendan Stanton that he is counting on to lead the way.
“Their leadership is going to take us as far as it can,” Baron says. “So I’ve been talking with those guys often.”
Champion is the leading scorer for the Griffins, pouring in 12.3 points a game while shooting 54% from the field. He actually had a career high 29 points last time out in a double-overtime win over Immaculata.
This will be the second time these two teams have met this season. Cabrini won the first match-up, 93-80, back on January 16th. Gwynedd-Mercy actually led by ten at the half, before the Cavaliers took control over the final twenty minutes.
“We’ve talked about how to prevent that (from happening again),” Baron says. “I think pressure, it was a packed gym, it was on our home floor, but Cabrini travels well. I think what it comes down to is just slowing down, sticking with the game plan, they tried to speed us up a little bit.”
Kahn says Cabrini will need to play great defense against a team that can match them on the scoreboard.
“We’re going to play a team that can easily score 80 points,” Kahn says. “They can score with us for forty minutes. We’re going to have to really get down on the defensive end and get some stops. Games like this, rivalry games, they are very well-coached, they will be well-prepared when they come in. It’s going to come down to who can get a couple stops here and there throughout the game.”
Cabrini and Gwynedd-Mercy will tip-off at 8:00pm at Nerney Field House.
Listen to Matt Leon’s interviews with John Baron and Marcus Kahn:
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.