PHILADELPHIA – The No. 2 CACC South-seeded Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University) men's basketball team (19-14) escaped the Gallagher Center with a CACC Quarterfinal win over the No. 3 CACC North-seeded Caldwell Cougars (16-13) by a final of 75-70 on Tuesday night.
With the win and USciences' upset over North No. 1 seeded Bloomfield, the Rams will take on the No. 4 CACC South-seeded Devils at 7 p.m. on Saturday night at the Gallagher Center in the CACC Semifinals.
Leading by as many as 21 points in the second half on Tuesday, Caldwell got back into the game in the final minute before the Rams held on for the win.
Jefferson shot 47.8% in the first half against the Cougars to take a 38-24 lead into halftime. The Rams hit five three-pointers, 11-of-12 from the line and assisted on 10 of their 11 field goals in the first half. Freshman Alexander Gorton (14) and sophomore Kylan Guerra (12) led the scoring for Jefferson in the opening period.
The game turned much more physical in the second half. After 16 combined fouls in the first, the two squads committed 34 in the final 20 minutes. The Rams had one starter and two reserves foul out in the game as both teams were in the double bonus with over 10 minutes remaining in the contest.
The physical play and Caldwell's full-court press led to the Jefferson lead shrinking. The Rams initially took their largest lead of the night with 16:06 to play in the affair, 50-29. The Cougars wiped out that deficit, getting within a possession with 1:19 on the clock after two free throws, 71-69. Caldwell went on a 40-21 run over that nearly 15-minute span to get back into the game with their season on the line.
A Jefferson foul with 49 seconds led to two free throws and a chance to tie for Caldwell. The Cougars' Ahmad Harrison missed the front end before making the second, 71-70.
Senior Yevgen Sakhniuk came up with a huge offensive rebound on the other end after a missed three with 22 seconds left, which he put back in, 73-70.
After a missed Caldwell three, freshman Kareem Matthew put the game out of reach with two free throws with 4.5 seconds remaining, 75-70.
Guerra led the Rams with 23 points to go along with four rebounds.
Gorton finished with 21 points, four rebounds and two assists.
Senior Kaison Randolph scored 10 points with four rebounds and five assists.
Guerra, Gorton and Randolph each hit three three-pointers in the win.
Sakhniuk had six points and a game-high 10 rebounds.