MIAMI SHORES –Cabrini University took the lead for good in the final minute of the first half and senior forward Tyheim Monroe scored 20 of his 24 points in the second half to carry the Cavaliers to an 87-76 victory over Eastern Connecticut State University Wednesday afternoon in a non-conference game played at Barry University.
Playing all 40 minutes, Monroe was 11-of-18 from the floor and also grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds. Sophomore guard Keith Blassingale led Cabrini (7-2) with 26 points as the duo combined for 50 of their team's points.
Eastern (9-2) led by two with 3:30 left in the first half but got only a three-point field goal by senior guard Kendall Marquez (Willimantic) the rest of the half and trailed by four at halftime. Down by 13 four minutes into the second half, Eastern twice cut the deficit to two points -- the final time on a putback by sophomore Jake Collagan (Wethersfield) with nine minutes left – but went five minutes with just one field goal as Cabrini pulled away to an 11-point, 77-66 lead with five minutes left.
Limited to four points in 16 minutes Tuesday due to an ankle injury, senior guard Tarchee Brown (Rockville) led all players with 29 points (14-of-25 from the floor) in 36 minutes and also topped the Warriors with a season-high 11 rebounds. Marquez followed with 12 points (four three-pointers) and Collagan chipped in 11 points – his highest total since the first weekend of the year. Junior forward Leonel Hyatt (Greenwich), held scoreless in 37 minutes in Tuesday's 63-60 win over Penn State Behrend, contributed six points in the first 16 minutes and finished with eight points and a season-high seven rebounds.
Brown, who moved to within 39 points of establishing a career points record, tossed in 16 of his points in the first half. At one point in the half, Brown scored ten straight Eastern points, keeping the Warriors from falling out of contention. His inside bucket in transition off a steal by junior guard Donny Craig (Waterford) and feed from Marquez late in the half tied the game at 31-all, and after the Warriors forced a shot clock violation, Brown took another pass from Marquez (team-high five assists) and dropped in a left-side layup that provided the Warriors with their final lead, 33-31 with 3:26 left in the half.
Eastern was not awarded a free throw until midway through the second half, with Collagan canning a pair that pulled Eastern to within 62-60. The Warriors finished 6-for-9 from the stripe, Cabrini 15-for-21.
Eastern shot 51.6 percent from the floor to remain close in the first half and the Cavaliers followed with 53.1 percent marksmanship to pull away in the second half.
A second-team NABC All-America as a junior, the 6-foot-6 inch Monroe entered the game averaging a team-high 22.8 points and a Division III-leading 17.9 rebounds. He led Cabrini to an NCAA tournament at-large berth a year ago and a final 19-8 record.
The game was the first between the programs since meeting in the 2012 NCAA Division III Sweet 16, when the Cavaliers emerged with a 72-65 victory.
Eastern visits No. 23 Amherst College Jan. 2 at 7 p.m. before returning to Little East Conference action at the University of Massachusetts Boston Jan. 6 at 3 p.m.