Tonawanda News — The Daemen College men’s basketball team began play in the USCAA national tournament on Wednesday night with a 81-67 win over the Apprentice School in Uniontown, Pa.
After a back and forth game in the early minutes, the Wildcats (26-5) ripped off a 12-0 run, led by junior Casey Sheehan, who scored 14 of his game-high 24 points in the first quarter. Daemen built a double-digit lead and then switched to a 2-3 zone that noticeably frustrated the Builders, and the Wildcats cruised the rest of the way.
“We wanted to play good defense against them and we did a real good job switching to a 2-3 zone at the end of the first half, and then played some other zones in the second half,” said Daemen associate head coach Mike Miranto. “They struggled against it and then made some subs, and they struggled against it. Our guys were talking and communicating and we did a nice job.”
Sophomore sharpshooter Jordan Greene finished the game a perfect 5 of 5 from three-point range, and four of those shots came in the first half.
Daemen took a 44-27 lead into halftime and Miranto said Sheehan and Greene’s play really helped spark the surge.
“Casey had it going early on and then Jordan went 4 for 4 from 3 in the first half,” Miranto said. “We knew going in that Jordan was important and he’d have to have a productive game for us. He certainly did that.”
The Wildcats won the rebounding battle, 59-54, and their 22 offensive boards led to 22 second chance points. Jim Regan scored only six points, but his 13 rebounds helped the Wildcats control the paint on both ends, Miranto said. Kadeem Johnson came close to a double-double, scoring 11 points and grabbing eight rebounds.
Next up for Daemen is Ave Maria University, who knocked off the Wildcats in a Florida tournament game on Jan. 5. Miranto said that the players have had this game circled since the brackets were released and hopes having Johnson, Gerald Beverly and Uchechi Ogbonna (all three missed the first game) available will prouce a different result.
Tipoff is scheduled for 10 p.m.