(CANTON, Ohio) - There was plenty on the line when Walsh (20-5, 16-5) took the court against rival Malone University (14-12, 12-10) in the 50th annual Mayors' Cup game. And when all was said and done, everything was coming up roses for the Cavs. With Walsh's 81-71 win, they clinched a home game in the upcoming GLIAC Playoffs, retained the coveted Mayors' Cup, won their 20th game in their first season as a full NCAA D-ll member, and stayed alive in the GLIAC South race. With Findlay's loss at Hillsdale, Walsh can gain a share of the South Division title with a win at Tiffin University on Saturday. Walsh home playoff opponent will be determined after Saturday's game at Tiffin.
Walsh has now defeated Malone in seven straight Cup games, with wins in 18 of the last 20 designated games. Overall, Walsh leads the all-time series 69-40, and have won 27 of the last 30 meetings.
The first half was nip and tuck, with Walsh holding a slim 35-34 lead at the intermission. Walsh led 32-27 with 3:04 left in the half when Malone's Che Richardson hit three straight three-pointers to tie the game at 34-all with 58 seconds to go in the half. Walsh's Davonte Beard (Jr., 6-2, Akron, OH/St. Vincent-St. Mary/Siena) would hit one of two free throws to give the Cavs a one-point lead at the break. Jeff Copeland (Jr., 6-5, Toledo, OH/St. John's Jesuit) led the Cavs with 13 first half points, going 5-5 from the floor.
The second half would feature two ties and four lead changes.
Malone took their largest lead of the game at 49-44 with 10:45 to play when the Cavs went to work.
Walsh would score five straight points and tie the game at 49-all on a Hrvoje Vucic (Sr., 7-1, Split, Croatia/Faust Vrancic/Valparaiso) three-point with 9:19 to play.
At this point, the Cavs were just getting warmed up. They would take the lead for good on their next possession on an alley-oop dunk by Chall Montgomery (So., 6-4, Cleveland, OH/Central Catholic/U.S. Naval Academy) on a perfect pass from Brad DuPont (Sr., 6-0, Massillon, OH/Jackson/Wheeling Jesuit). Walsh's 14-2 run would give them a 58-51 lead with 6:29 to play.
Malone would close to within three points at 60-57 with 4:42 to play, but would get no closer.
Walsh would then extend the lead to 10 points at 72-62 with 2:01 to play. They would make six of six free throws in the final two minutes to nail down the win.
Walsh's balanced attack featured six players scoring in double figures. Copeland finished 8-12 from the floor, and led all players with 19 points. Vucic had a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Jesse Hardin (So., 6-1, Warren, OH/Hardin) added 15 points, 13 in the second half. Beard and Montgomery each had 11 points. DuPont grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.
Walsh out-rebounded Malone 44-24. The Cavs shot 83% (25-30) the foul line, and shot 52% from the floor in the second half.
For head coach Jeff Young (262-57), his Cavs have won 20 games in season in nine of ten years.
Saturday's game at Tiffin will tip-off at 3 pm and will be broadcast live on WNPQ, 95.5 FM.