By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A berth in the Division III NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament will be at stake on Friday night in Radnor as the Cabrini College Cavaliers host the Neumann University Knights in the Colonial States Athletic Conference title game.
This will be a rematch of last year’s championship tilt, which was won by Cabrini, 96-79, with the Cavaliers advancing to the NCAA Tournament for a fifth straight season.
Neumann (16-10) got here this time around by beating Centenary College in the semifinals on Tuesday, 57-52, in Aston. They are looking for the program’s first ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
“I’m really excited for our players who have endured a lot,” Neumann head coach Jim Rullo tells KYW Newsradio, “and it’s a tremendous opportunity to play against an obviously very talented Cabrini team on Friday night.”
Listen To The Entire Interview With Neumann Head Coach Jim Rullo:
The Cavaliers (17-9) defeated Gwynedd-Mercy University in the other semifinal, 109-101. That game featured another outstanding performance for Cabrini’s fine senior guard Aaron Walton-Moss. The Camden High product put together his ninth triple-double of the season, finishing with 18 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists. Cabrini head coach Tim McDonald is very happy Walton-Moss is on his side.
“Having him on the floor, he keeps everyone calm, under control and his biggest strength is finding the open guy,” McDonald tells KYW Newsradio. “So a lot of teams have to double-team him or triple-team him or otherwise he’s going to go and score and he just finds the open guy and gets everyone involved and that gets them right into the game and picks up their intensity level.”
Listen To The Entire Interview With Cabrini Head Coach Tim Mcdonald:
As you can probably tell by the scores in their respective semifinal match-ups, these teams have gotten to the same place utilizing two different styles.
“They want to pound the ball inside to their bigger bodied guys and play on the inside-out to get the ball to their shooters where we have to limit them getting paint touches, whether it’s their guards driving or getting it into the post,” McDonald says. “For us, we’ve got to try to turn it into an up-tempo game.”
Which is exactly what Rullo says his squad doesn’t want.
“We can’t go up and down, we don’t have the firepower to do so,” Rullo says. “I think that’s what’s great about the game of basketball, there’s multiple ways to skin a cat and I think where we don’t have much room for error, we have to be on point with making them work for everything they get and understanding that they’re going to make difficult shots at times. But at the same point and time, we’re going to try to challenge them as best we can. We’re going to try and limit our mistakes by not turning the ball over and we’re going to try and rebound the ball as best as we can.”
Cabrini has eclipsed the 100-point mark in five of its last seven games (all in regulation). Neumann holds teams to 66.6 points per game and 41% shooting from the field. Walton-Moss leads Cabrini in scoring at 20 points per game while sophomore guard DeShawn Lowman paces the Knights at 14.2 a contest.
Cabrini swept the two regular season match-ups from Neumann, winning 81-60 in Radnor on December 3rd and then grabbing an 80-71 decision in Aston on January 28th.
Friday night’s game tips-off at 7:00 inside Nerney Field House.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.