Hoopsville Classic: Cabrini finds its finish

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Aaron Walton-Moss played all 40 minutes for Cabrini against St. Mary's (Md.).
Photo by Larry Radloff, d3photography.com
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By Rob Knox

OWINGS MILLS, Md. – Cabrini College senior forward Fran Rafferty has a sharp memory.

For example, he can recall every painful, gory detail of the second half of the 2012 national title game when a late lead slipped away into a tough defeat. He also hasn’t forgotten how Cabrini lost last year to Virginia Wesleyan in the beginning of the season. However, Rafferty was baffled when asked what school his senior roommate A.J. Picard attended last year.

Rafferty wasn’t on the “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” hot seat, but he knew he needed a lifeline. He yelled to a teammate, who correctly provided him with the answer he was seeking of Goldey-Beacom. Fortunately, for the Cavs and their fans, Rafferty never forgets his jump shot, defensive intensity and leadership. Rafferty had a blast in helping 19th-ranked Cabrini enjoy an 84-78 victory over 10th-ranked St. Mary’s (Md.) in a battle of Mid-Atlantic Region superpowers in the nightcap of the Hoopsville Classic at Stevenson University Friday night.

“It’s nice to get a win,” Rafferty said. “This showed our potential and what we really can do. We had a lot of key contributors tonight. A.J. has done a good job and he’s still picking up the offense for us.”

Rafferty scored 16 of his 21 points in the first half and then provided the necessary calm to help reverse a late six-point deficit. Trailing 69-63 with 8:27 remaining, the Cavs scored 13 straight points and then held off one final St. Mary’s charge to raise their season record to 2-0. Ultimately, Cabrini finished the game by outscoring the Seahawks, 21-9.

Cabrini got seven consecutive defensive stops by forcing five missed shots and two turnovers. Picard made a 3-pointer with 6:57 remaining to give Cabrini the lead for good. The Cavs also held St. Mary’s without a field goal for 5:21 of the second half during their scoring burst. Yet despite Cabrini’s strong defense, St. Mary’s still trailed, 76-74 following Brendan McFall’s old-fashioned 3-point play with 3:06 remaining.

“We knew had to chip away at the deficit and that there was plenty of time remaining,” Rafferty said. “Once we got the lead, we had to hold on and make smart plays. We talked a lot in practice and during film sessions about our need to finish games because it’s been a problem for us in the past. Aaron (Walton-Moss) and I have been around long enough to know that bad things happen when you don’t finish games.”

Rafferty made sure the Cavs enjoyed a happy bus ride back to the Main Line by providing the finishing touch with a twisting layup in traffic as the shot clock expired that expanded Cabrini’s lead to 82-75 with 63 seconds remaining.

Everybody had a hand in Cabrini’s victory.

Walton-Moss was a beast finishing with 24 points and 16 rebounds, which were two short of his career high. Picard finished with 15 points and directed the offense with precision. Deryl Bagwell contributed 10 points off the bench. Brennan McCann added nine points for the Cavs, who outrebounded St. Mary’s, 41-27.

St. Mary’s (1-1 overall) also had four players reach double figures led by Brendan McFall’s 23 points. Donn Hill scored 14 points while guards Nick LaGuerre and Chris Hutchinson finished with 12 points each. The Seahawks showed championship character during the contest by erasing a 10-point deficit early in the second half to take a six point lead. Overall, the back and forth battle featured eight ties and seven lead changes.

“I give a ton of credit to Cabrini because I thought they did a good job of taking us out of what we wanted to do,” McFall said. “There pressure forced us to run our offense out further from the basket then we liked. Cabrini played harder and more physical than us tonight and now it’s our job to go back and work on that and be ready for Sunday.”

Cabrini and St. Mary’s return to action Sunday afternoon on the final day of the tournament. The Seahawks will play 18th-ranked Middlebury at 1 p.m. while Cabrini meets Salisbury starting at 3 p.m.

NOTE: Long before D3hoops.com existed and cell phones were the size of bricks, Cabrini and Salisbury used to be in the same conference – the Eastern States Athletic Conference – along with Allentown College (now Desales), Shenandoah, Wesley, Frostburg State and Lincoln.