By Ryan Mosher, ERAU Sports Information
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - A packed ICI Center was witness to some déjà vu on Saturday night as the eighth-ranked Eagles of Embry-Riddle (Fla.) toppled the top-ranked Northwood (Fla.) Seahawks, 78-74 in Sun Conference action. The victory marked the third consecutive season Embry-Riddle has upset Northwood while the Seahawks have been ranked No. 1. The Blue and Gold improves to 9-1 and 2-0 in conference play, while sending the Seahawks (6-1, 1-1) to their first loss of the season.
Sophomore Cesar Pastrana was dominant inside and outside for the Eagles, scoring a career-high 26 points and grabbing a game-high nine rebounds for the home team. Pastrana earned 10 free throws and connected on nine, part of the Blue and Gold's 26-for-28 effort from the charity stripe, one of the best single-game percentages in program history.
The top 10 matchup started with a trio of Seahawk three-pointers, delivered by Northwood seniors Ty Davis, Ra'Shad James and Tracy Parks, sandwhiched around a Pastrana layup and Jason Powell trey, making the score 9-5 in favor of the visitors.
James brought the Northwood fans to their feet with an impressive fast break dunk after an Eagle turnover, but the Eagles were able to get within one point at 14-13 thanks to a pair of Powell free throws with 13:40 left in the half.
Pastrana gave the Eagles their first lead of the night on two free throws of his own a minute later, but a three by Patrick Horstmann, playing in his first game of the season, returned the lead to Northwood.
The Seahawks went on a mini-run over the next several minutes, extending their lead to six with a Parks' jumper with 6:50 remaining in the first period. However, the home team ended the half on a 14-2 run, sparked by Pastrana and Powell to take 34-27 lead into the break.
Pastrana and Powell combined for 30 of the Eagles' 34 points as Embry-Riddle shot better than 40 percent from the field in the first half. The Eagles were able to hold Northwood to just 31 percent from the floor and outrebounded the Seahawks by six.
A layup from Pastrana to open the scoring in the second half gave the Eagles their largest lead of the night up to that point, extending the advantage to 36-27. But Rollie Massimino's squad fired back with an 11-2 run over the next five mintues, knotting the score at 38-38 on a Horstmann fast break layup.
DeForest Carter scored his first points of the game at the 14-minute mark of the second, adding a pair of free throws a few possessions later to five Embry-Riddle a four-point lead, 44-40.
Daniel Kiesling forced a Seahawk turnover and got rewarded on the Eagles' offensive possession, drilling the first of two huge treys for the Eagles to put the hosts up by seven with 11 minutes left in the game.
Northwood got the deficit down to three when James stole the ball and recorded a layup, but a layup from Sam Ford off a beautiful assist by Carter, followed by a Jeremiah Applin three-ball gave the Eagles an eight-point cushion with 8:38 remaining.
Embry-Riddle withstood Northwood's comeback attempt over the next few minutes, actually increasing their lead to 11 on a Rico Saldana layup with five minutes left. However, the top-ranked Seahawks outscored the Eagles 11-1 in under two minutes, cutting the lead to 66-65 with 2:32 left in the game.
Pastrana connected on two free throws after he was fouled in the post by Thierno Agne, and after a missed shot by Masse Doumbe, Kiesling came up clutch with his second three-pointer of the night to give Embry-Riddle a six-point lead, 71-65.
Northwood got to within two points twice, but Embry-Riddle went 7-for-8 from the charity stripe in the final minute to seal the upset victory.
Pastrana's 26 points were a game-high, while Powell finished with 15 on 5-for-8 shooting from the field and Kiesling recorded a career-high 10 for the Eagles.
Embry-Riddle shot nearly 48 percent from the floor and held the Seahawks to 12 percent under their season average of 54. James scored 20 for Northwood and Davis added 19 and Doumbe chipped in 16.
The Eagles (2-0) join Ave Maria (2-0) and St. Thomas (1-0) as the last undefeated teams in conference play and will take on DeVry (Fla.) for the second time this season on Monday, Dec. 3 at Brevard Community College in Melbourne, Fla. at 12 p.m.