By Matt Parrino
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News —
AMHERST — The Daemen men's basketball team had four starters score in double figures, shot 48 percent from 3-point range and made 28 of 37 free throws to knock off rival Roberts Wesleyan College, 98-82, Friday night in front of a packed house at Lumsden Gymnasium.
The Wildcats (13-6, 10-3 East Coast Conference) extended their home win streak to 29 straight games and have now won six in a row and nine of their last 10 overall.
After the game Daemen head coach Don Silveri said that a combination of factors have helped his team so tough to beat in its home gym.
"Right now it's the longest winning streak in the nation so we're very proud of that. It's a tribute to these kids — they've been going at it for four years," he said. "A lot of it has to do with the support we've been getting. It's a Tuesday night, zero degrees out and it's another great crowd. That's part of it and it inspires the players to play better. The other part is that this group of kids — they compete. You put all those things together and it's 29 in a row."
Daemen got out to a double-digit lead early in the game on the strength of its shooting and execution in transition. The Wildcats led 49-33 at halftime and seemed poised to coast to the win, but Roberts Wesleyan hung around until the final minutes.
The Redhawks (8-9, 4-7 ECC) have struggled this season but had only allowed more than 80 points to three teams coming into the matchup with the Wildcats.
With just over two minutes to play RW closed the gap to 88-80, but that's as close as the Redhawks could get. Wildcats senior Casey Sheehan sank one of his four 3-pointers to start an 8-0 Daemen run to help the Wildcats close out the win.
Sheehan scored a game-high 23 points and had six assists, and Kadeem Johnson (23 and 13) and Gerald Beverly (15 and 12) both posted double-doubles in the win. Beverly, who leads the ECC in blocks and rebounds per game, also sent away four Redhawks shots.
North Tonawanda's Aaron Davis scored nine points off the bench on three 3-pointers. Davis has scored in double digits in four of his last six games, and Silveri said it's nice to finally see what he's capable of at nearly 100 percent health.
"He's a consummate team player. He plays both ends of the floor, and he gives 15 minutes a game of very steady basketball," Silveri said. "This is the first time he's been healthy — his achilles has been flaring up for three years. He's a tactician out there — you tell him to do something once and you don't have to tell him again. I'm really proud of him and it's nice to see him finally playing healthy."
Tuesday's game was Daemen's fifth contest in nine days. Silveri said he wants the team to rest Wednesday and prepare for a big weekend, including a pair of critical ECC games at home.
"Early on (this season) we had injuries, so when we played Roberts down there (a 77-72 overtime win by the Wildcats), Mark (Coppola) and Casey were just coming off injuries. The whole thing is getting better as the season goes along," he said. That doesn't mean we'll win Friday and Sunday, but I know we're playing better."
The Wildcats host Long Island Univeristy Post on Friday and the New York Institute of Technology on Sunday with positioning at the top of the conference at stake. Game time against the Pioneers is set for 8 p.m.Follow @tonanewssports and sports editor @MattParrino on Twitter for complete area sports coverage.