By Matt Parrino
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News —
AMHERST — With point guard Mark Coppola still recovering from an injured shoulder suffered in the Daemen men's basketball team's season opener on Nov. 8, senior guard Casey Sheehan had to shoulder the brunt of the load Saturday when his Wildcats went up against Mercyhurst University.
The always-entertaining Sheehan was up for the challenge, as he scored a game-high 19 points on 67 percent shooting from the field to lead Daemen to a 69-63 win, the 25th consecutive home victory for the Wildcats and first-ever victory over Mercyhurst.
Sheehan hasn't played point guard since his high school days and it showed, as he committed eight turnovers — two late in regulation. But the senior said he knew he had to step up and make plays when his team needed it.
"I haven't played point since freshman year so I'm still a little shaky," Sheehan said. "(Supreme Hannah) comes in and does a great job, and we both just do what we can whenever we have to. We both can get it done and I like how 'Sup' is coming up too — he's going to be a great point guard."
Sheehan is referring to sophomore Supreme Hannah, who has stepped into a starting role since Coppola went down. He was held scoreless on Saturday in only 20 minutes of action, but Daemen head coach Don Silveri has been impressed with the young point guard and wondered after the game if he should have played him more down the stretch.
The Wildcats led for almost the entirety of the game. The Lakers made a run at the end of the game but every time they got close, Daemen answered.
With 3:45 left in regulation Mercyhurst got within six points and seemed to be grabbing momentum. On the next Daemen possession the offense broke down a bit and it looked like the Wildcats were going to have to settle for a bad shot. But Sheehan had the answer when he pulled up from beyond NBA 3-point range and drilled the shot to put Daemen back up nine with 3:30 left.
The Lakers would trim that lead to three points with under a minute to go, but Daemen converted on free throws late to put the game away.
Daemen center Gerald Beverly, who was named East Coast Conference player of the week on Nov. 11, finished with 15 points and seven rebounds, including a rim-rattling ally-opp slam dunk in the first half that brought most of Lumsden Gymnasium to its feet.
It seemed like every time Beverly touched the ball in the post he was up against an immediate double team — something Silveri said he's just going to have to get used to it.
"That was a gutsy effort. We pretty much refuse to lose. We obviously need Coppola back ‚ this was a real quick team," Silveri said. "Gerald is just an athlete and everybody is going to double team him so he'll just have to get used to it. We've been working on adjustments, but this is a great bunch of kids and I'm proud of them."
North Tonawanda graduate Aaron Davis played 17 minutes off the Daemen bench and scored six points on a pair of 3-pointers. He also grabbed a rebound and dished out three assists. Uchechi Ogbonna scored 15 points, grabbed seven rebounds and had three assists.
Daemen is back in action on Tuesday when it travels to Rochester to face rival Roberts Wesleyan. Tip off is set for 8 p.m.
COLLEGE AREA ROUNDUP
NCCC 79, CCCC 66
The Thunderwolves improved to 8-0 on the season as Gjaimeir Standford lef the way with 26 points, four assists and four steals. Eli Jones chipped in 21 points and eight boards, and Sheldon Zablotny scored 10 and had five rebounds.
NCCC 46, CCCC 37
Kristine Ripson (Lew-Port) scored 17 points, grabbed 12 boards and recorded five blocks to lead the way for NCCC (8-0). Jesse DeWalters had 11 points and seven assists, while Alba Perez had 11 points.