Tonawanda News

Sports

February 22, 2014

Wildcats cap off dream season with ECC title

Tonawanda News —

AMHERST — It was a storybook ending. And this year's Daemen men's basketball team earned it.

After a hard-fought, 75-66 win over Bridgeport on Saturday, the Wildcats learned that rival Roberts Wesleyan did them a favor by knocking off Dowling College at the same time in Rochester, securing the East Coast Conference regular season title for Daemen.

The Wildcats (20-6, 17-3 ECC) finished the regular reason on a 13-game win streak and extended their home win streak to an astounding 35 games, the second longest active streak in the country.

Nothing was pretty about the Wildcats' performance Saturday. They shot 43 percent from the field and missed 15 free throws, but the win signified what's made this group so special the past four seasons: teamwork.

Standout big man Gerald Beverly was hounded every minute he was on the floor and was forced to work hard on both ends to score and rebound. At the end of regulation it seemed as if the junior had struggled a bit in the game, but a glance at the box score and his 15 points, 14 rebounds and six blocks were a reminder of his tremendous impact in every game that he plays.

The senior backcourt of Mark Coppola and Casey Sheehan did what they do best. Coppola (five points/seven assists) put his team in a position to win and Sheehan put the ball in the basket, leading the Wildcats with 24 points, 16 coming in the second half after a slow start.

Kadeem Johnson and Uchechi Ogbonna scrapped as usual. Johnson scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds, and his toughness set the tone in a slugfest of a game. Ogbonna, dealing with a lingering knee injury, gutted out 21 minutes less than 24 hours after playing 36 minutes in a must-win against Dowling the night before. 

Off the bench, Jordan Greene hit a big 3-pointer down the stretch and NT's Aaron Davis provided a spark with his aggressiveness on the defensive end in his 15 minutes.

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