By Matt Leon
RADNOR, Pa. (CBS) — This is a great year for women’s college basketball in the Philadelphia area. Several teams are making pushes for the post-season, but right now there is no team that is hotter than Division III Cabrini College.
The 20-3 Cavaliers beat rival Gwynedd-Mercy on Wednesday night, 79-55, and that victory extended their winning streak to 15 straight games. Not bad for a program that had won 22 games in the previous two seasons.
“We have a lot of kids who have been a part of the program for the last couple of years where we’ve struggled because we’ve been young,” Cabrini head coach Kate Pearson tells KYW Newsradio. “So we knew, coming into this season, that they were going to be very driven and wanted to see a little more success than they’ve had the last two, three seasons because they have kind of put that effort in and haven’t seen the results. So it’s nice for them to see the results in the win column.”
Listen To Podcast With Kate Pearson:
So what has keyed this incredible streak?
“Defense is our biggest key,” Pearson says. “We make sure we talk about that every single day at practice and every time in the locker room. Defense is going to win games, defense is going to win championships – that old saying. So we talk about making sure (we have) defensive intensity every single game. And then we let our offense just kind of thrive off that. So we’ve been able to defend and rebound the ball really well.”
The numbers point that out. Cabrini is holding opponents to just 47.4 points a game and 32% shooting from the field. They also outrebound their opponents by an average of 13 a game. Five times during this streak, the Cavaliers have held opponents to 29% shooting or worse from the field.
One of the leaders of this team is senior guard/forward Laura Caron. The Archbishop Wood product is really enjoying this ride after missing all of last season with a torn ACL in her knee. This came after she had torn the ACL in her other knee in high school. She says she had a feeling this squad was something special pretty early on.
“When we were down in Florida (last week of December),” Caron says. “We went down there (for) two tough games that you don’t know what’s going to happen and we won those games. That’s when I was like, ‘We’re going to do well, we’re going to go far’.”
Listen To Podcast With Laura Caron:
Those victories over Western New England and Kenyon College were the first two games in this winning streak.
Now while the Cavs hang their hat on defense, they also have players that can fill it up. Leading that charge is junior guard Brittany Sandone. A native of Harleysville, Sandone, is averaging 15.1 points a game and she has hit 50 of Cabrini’s 82 3’s for the season. She is having fun these days, but adds that there is still a lot of work to be done.
“You’ve got to come and work harder each time,” Sandone says. “If you don’t, then you’re going to fall a step behind. Unfortunately, the past couple of years we’ve known what it’s like to be on a losing streak. So finally on this winning streak, it’s great and we just want to keep working hard and we want to get to the championship.”
Listen To Podcast With Brittany Sandone:
Cabrini has already clinched the #1 seed in the Colonial States Athletic Conference tournament. Winner of that tournament gets an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Cavaliers will go for a 16th consecutive victory on Wednesday, February 13th, against Notre Dame (Maryland). This Saturday afternoon’s game against Marywood University was postponed due to weather.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.