Bloomfield takes CACC title
Deacons win fourth conference championship since 2003
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. -- For the fourth time since 2003, the Bloomfield College men's basketball team is champions of the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference.
The program captured its fourth CACC banner in decisive fashion Saturday evening, avenging a regular season home loss and earning a berth in the NCAA Tournament with a 94-81 victory against Goldey Beacom in the conference's Tournament Final.
“This is such a great day for our players, our program, and for Bloomfield College,” head coach Gerald Holmes said. “It took every member of our program – every single player, and coach – to achieve this. I'm so proud of our players for doing whatever it took to achieve their ultimate goal. They've done whatever has been asked of them all season long, and their hard work has paid off. I could not be happier for them.”
The tournament's two top seeds engaged in a seesaw battle in the early going, with each team holding multiple leads in the opening half. But the best players shine when the lights are brightest, and the trio of seniors Gage Daye, Ryan Rodrigues and junior Matt Wafula tallied 31 points in the first 20 minutes to give Bloomfield a slim 41-40 advantage.
The Deacons would never look back, engineering a 12-2 run early in the second half to move their lead to double digits for the first time in the contest. The Lightning were able to cut the deficit to 65-61 with just over eight minutes remaining, but Bloomfield would retaliate with another spurt to move the lead back to 11 with 5:40 to play. The final blow proved too much for Goldey to overcome, the Deacons cruising to their fourth title during Holmes' nine-year tenure at Bloomfield and ushering in a celebration fit for champions.
“Words can't explain how it feels right now,” Daye said of his first championship at Bloomfield. “All the hard work we have put in has paid off. I've been waiting my whole career for this moment, and it's everything I imagined. It's unbelievable.”
The newly-minted CACC Player of the Year, Daye finished with a game-high 24 points, five rebounds and four assists to earn Tournament MVP honors. Rodrigues finished with 20 points, connecting on eight of his 18 field goal attempts, while Wafula finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Each of the standouts received CACC All-Tournament team honors.
Four players reached double-figures for Goldey Beacom, with Terrence Parks leading all Lightning scorers with 23 points. Azeez Ellegood netted 19 points, while Darnell Cephas totaled 15 points.
The Deacons will now play in the NCAA Tournament for the third time in school history, and will wait to hear their opening round opponent. The annual NCAA Tournament Selection Show is set for Sunday, March 6 at 10:00 PM, live on NCAA.com.
“Tonight feels amazing, but we still have more goals to accomplish,” Daye said. “We want to move forward in the regionals and continue to show what type of team we have. It's going to be a great experience, but our goal is to keep winning and keep advancing.”