By Phil Anastasia
Junior center Brandon Cazan scored 14 points with 10 rebounds to lead Bishop Eustace to a 49-41 victory over Paul VI Thursday night in an Olympic Conference National Division clash of Top 10 teams.
Senior guard Flo DaSilva added nine points, 10 rebounds and six assists for Bishop Eustace (16-7 overall, 5-2 in the division), which swept the season series from Paul VI.
Bishop Eustace, the No. 8 team in The Inquirer Top 10, can clinch a share of the division title with a victory over Woodrow Wilson on Friday.
Jay Howard scored 13 for No. 2 Paul VI (17-3, 5-2).
"This was the biggest game in the last two years for us," the 6-foot-5 Cazan (pictured) said. "This game means everything to us."
Playing before a near-capacity crowd that included two large student sections, Bishop Eustace seized command of the game in the second half.
Sophomore Mike Cohen scored all 10 of his points after halftime for Bishop Eustace, while junior forward Connor McLaughlin finished the game with eight points, five rebounds and three assists.
The Crusaders got strong work from eight players as reserves Isaiah Wingfield, Max Raiken and Jack Walter contributed quality minutes.
"Total team effort," said Bishop Eustace coach Bob Falconiero, who was serendaded with "Happy Birthday" by the BE student section late in the game.
DaSilva made the play of the game, splitting two defenders with a between-the-legs dribble and converted an up-andunder reserve layup for a 36-31 lead midway in the fourth quarter.
Senior Sean Dumele converted a put-back and Cazan beat PVI defenders down the court and took a long pass from DaSilva and made a layup for a 40-31 leads at the 3:18 mark.
"We can play like that," Falconiero said. "We've gotten more consistent as the season has gone along. We seem to come ready to play the big games, which is a good thing."
Cohen made a three-point play off a back screen that set up a layup off an inbounds pass from DaSilva for a 45-34 lead with 1:44 to play.
Paul VI, which still has a division game remaining with Camden, fought back as Matt Risse (nine points) made a three-pointer and DeVahnte Mosley scored off a steal.
But Bishop Eustace was able to close out the victory with strong ball-handling down the stretch.
When the final buzzer sounded, Bishop Eustace students stormed the court in celebration.
"We came to play," Cazan said. "This is a huge win."
Paul VI 9 5 15 12 -- 41
Bishop Eustace 7 6 17 19 -- 49
PVI: Jay Howard 13, Matt Risse 9, DeVahnte Mosley 4, Jair Green 2, Ivan Robinson 9, Jahvan Rosbia 4.
BE: Flo DaSilva 9, Connor McLaughlin 8, Brandon Cazan 14, Mike Cohen 10, Sean Dumele 4, Max Raiken 2, Jake Walter 2.
-- Contact Phil Anastasia at email@example.com
-- Follow @PhilAnastasia on Twitter