(NORTH CANTON, Ohio) – For the 13th time in both series and Mayors' Cup history, Walsh defeated Malone 86-75 in a game that had added importance than usual. For the Cavaliers (19-6, 14-5), not only do they keep the hardware awarded to the winner, but they gained a valuable win over the Pioneers (19-8, 12-7) who were ranked ahead of them in the first regional polls.
Additionally, with one game remaining in the regular season, a win on Thursday at Lake Erie will secure the No. 2 seed in the G-MAC tournament the following week.
The pivotal moment in the game came about eight minutes into the second half. Malone's Nate Sheppard appeared to give his team all the momentum after slamming down a dunk to put his team up 56-51 and sent the Pioneer fans into a roar, but the Cavaliers answered in a big way.
Two possessions later, Branden Wilkins sank a jumper that sparked a 15-0 run over the next three minutes that put Walsh up for good. During that stretch, the Cavs went 6-for-6 with and-one opportunities following three of those baskets.
Malone was able to cut the deficit back to five points after a pair of free throws with 4:38 to go, but Conner Wess answered with the next five points on a layup and 3-pointer to put Walsh back up by double-digits and forced Malone to call a timeout.
The icing on the cake came on Walsh's next possession as Steven Carpenter, the only active senior on the team, pulled down a defensive rebound on the front end of a Malone 1-and-1 only to come down the court and hit a 3-pointer after an assist by Darryl Straughter. He added another defensive board just for good measure on the Pioneers' return trip.
It was an excellent way to go out in his last home game as a Cavalier. He, along with Conor Keck who played the previous three seasons before medical issues sidelined him for good, were honored before the game.
Chandler Vaudrin had another spectacular game dropped a game-high 29 points to lead the Cavaliers. It was his best game from the field this season as he made 10-of-12. Outside of shooting, he pulled down seven rebounds, dished out six assists, and made four steals.
Wess followed with 15, all of which came in the second half. He was 5-of-9 with three triples. Straughter added 14 points, and Wilkins tallied 10 off the bench. Sterling Christy pulled down 10 rebounds for game-high honrors.
Malone was led by Ty Jordan with 24 points and Sheppard with 20. Together they combined for seven of the Pioneers' 12 3-pointers that kept them in the game.
Walsh shot 54.1 percent from the field, while the Pioneers were kept at 36.9 percent. The bulk of the points came inside as the Cavs outscored their rivals 52-22 inside the paint.
The Cavs will look to secure that No. 2 seed in Painesville Thursday evening against the Storm. Tip-off is set for 5:30 p.m.