Second half propels Cavs past Veritas
It took a couple quarters for the East Rutherford Cavaliers (15-4, 7-1 SMAC) to really find their rhythm Friday night at home against Veritas Christian, but once they found it, it was a rout.
A 53-point second half fueled the Cavs to an 81-50 win over the Warriors.
"That's a good basketball team that's coached well and plays well," East head coach Brad Levine said following the game. "I think East Rutherford may have played their most complete game all year...that was a good game right there. I'll take that second half anytime."
Veritas hit the first bucket of the second quarter to extend their lead to seven before Travis Waldroup-Rodriguez converted a three-point play on the other end to shrink it back to four.
With their lead down to just two, Veritas’ Franklin Blum hit a step-back 3 to stretch it back to 21-16.
Waldroup-Rodriguez nailed a short jumper to bring East within one at 21-20 with 3:50 left in the half before giving them a 22-21 lead with another jumper at the 2:50 mark.
Veritas’ long-range shooting at size advantage on the block allowed them to storm back to a 28-24 lead with 35 seconds remaining in the half.
Heading into the locker room the teams were dead even, 28-28.
"We made some mistakes but I just don't think we attacked the zone enough in the first half," Levine said. "It was like we never got out of second gear."
The Cavs stormed out of the break on a 7-0 run capped by a Roddric Ross dunk forcing Veritas into an early timeout complete with a broken clipboard.
Veritas answered with a 6-0 run of their own cutting the East lead back to one at 35-34.
With a slim 39-38 lead, Waldroup-Rodriguez drained two 3’s to give East a semi-comfortable 45-38 lead.
Veritas kept the deficit to just seven at the end of third quarter down 51-44.
The Cavalier offense started to run on all cylinders in the fourth and with five minutes left in the game the lead ballooned to 66-46.
East cruised through the final two minutes with a combination of starter and reserves en route to the 81-50 win.
"We have to start games as well as we finish them but they're taking coaching right now," Levine said.
Waldroup-Rodriguez led all scorers with 22 points while all four other East starters reached double figures. Jarivs Hopper scored 15, DeVonte Boykins scored 13, Ross poured in 12 and T.J. Watkins contributed 10.
"[Waldroup-Rodriguez] is starting to become a complete player because he's using his body," Levine said. "He's a got a big body that's hard to defend at any position."
Blum led Veritas with 20 points.
"I'm just real tickled about tonight," Levine added.
East returns Tuesday, Feb. 5 when they travel to Burns for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff in Lawndale.