"As poorly as we played, you're really only down 11 (points)," DeLong said of the opening scoring drought. "But I think it was just too much of a blow for our kids to deal with, and I think they maybe saw how good this team actually was and knew it was going to be a really difficult battle."
Compounding the Panthers' shooting troubles was the fact that they did not earn many second chances; instead, they gave up defensive rebounds to the Cavaliers and got burnt on the ensuing fastbreaks. Big men like Noah Beh pulled down both offensive and defensive rebounds for the Cavaliers, providing them with plenty of looks at the basket.
The extra effort on the boards was something Ferguson made sure he stressed in the practices leading up to the game.
"Last year, we came down (and) we gave up 17 offensive rebounds against Danville," he said. "So all week, we worked on boxing out and doing little things."
While Beh was the only starter on the Cavaliers that did not finish with double-figures in points, his presence was definitely felt in the paint.
Beh registered six points, but his impact was much greater in other areas of his game. He was most effective at starting plenty of fastbreaks, and also had a couple of monstrous blocks.
"I'm so proud of (Beh), because he was a non-factor offensively, but he was probably the biggest factor in the game," Ferguson said.
The Panthers shot better after the first quarter, but they were not efficient enough to spark a comeback. The team combined for six three-point field goals — including three from Michael Jacobs, who led the team in scoring with 13 points — but it also missed far too many to be a threat from around the perimeter.