COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Royals Rally, Move To 9-0
SCRANTON — Rarely during its unbeaten start over the first eight games had the University of Scranton men’s basketball team been tested. So coach Carl Danzig was curious to see how his young team would respond when The College of New Jersey stormed to a fast start Thursday afternoon. It was up to the challenge. Four players scored in double figures as the Royals overcame deficits in each half to notch an 82-79 nonconference win over the Lions at the John Long Center. Redshirt freshman Logan Bailey led the way with 22 points. Freshman Jackson Danzig followed with 19, fellow frosh Jack Brockett added 12 and junior Kyle DeVerna chipped in 11. Ranked No. 25 in this week’s d3hoops.com Top 25 poll, Scranton (9-0) continued its best start since it won its first 20 games in the 1991-92 season. Also, the victory was No. 1,494 in the 102-season history of the program. Only nine NCAA Division III men’s basketball programs have won 1,500 games. This one, though, was far from easy. TCNJ (5-5) came out smoking. The Lions hit their first seven shots to score the game’s first 16 points and 11 of their first 13 attempts to build a 27-8 lead with 12:11 left in the first half. Conversely, Scranton missed its first seven shots and did not get its first field goal until a steal-and-layup by Bailey six minutes in. “They were on us quick. They really punched us in the gut early,” coach Danzig said. “Nobody’s jumped on us like that early. But we were able to see the ball go in the basket, we were able to settled down and get our flow going a little bit. “I was really proud of the way they kept their poise and recovered. For a young team to do that, it really showed me a lot about them.” With Jackson Danzig hitting four 3-pointers and scoring 14 points, the Royals put together a 24-4 run to wipe out TCNJ’s fast start and take their first lead, 32-31, with 5:35 left in the first half. “We just had to stay calm, keep working and keep fighting,” said Jackson Danzig, who scored all 19 of his points in the first half. “They came out strong and hit us in the face first. But we responded really well and started picking up our defensive pressure. As soon as we elevated our defensive play, that’s what really helped bring us back in the first half.” TCNJ led at halftime, 44-43. Then, the Lions used an 11-2 burst midway through the second half to build a 64-56 advantage with 10:44 left. Niall Carpenter, who led TCNJ with 18 points, had a three-point play in the run. Mike Walley capped it with back-to-back 3-pointers. Again, though, the Royals rallied. Six-foot-8 sophomore Nolan Genasevich scored seven straight points — two 3-pointers sandwiched around a free throw — to give Scranton a 73-71 lead with 5:44 remaining. “They backed off me a little bit. I guess they thought I can’t shoot because I’m a bigger guy,” Genasevich said. “My teammates were able to set me up perfectly for those two wide-open 3s. I couldn’t ask for anything more. “Coach has been working with me a lot to expand my game in and out. That’s something I hopefully will be able to utilize more down the road as well.” Genasevich finished with a career-high nine points. His effort was needed, especially with leading scorer, junior Matt Mancuso, saddled with foul trouble throughout. “We know Nolan can shoot the ball, but that’s one of those you don’t really expect,” coach Danzig said. “He really stepped forward tonight and I’m really happy for him that he believed in himself that he could knock those shots down. That was huge with Matt being in foul trouble.” Two free throws by Randy Walko gave TCNJ a 79-78 lead with 1:26 left. After a Scranton miss, the Lions had a chance to extend the lead, but P.J. Ringel missed two free throws. With 33.8 seconds left, Bailey drove to the basket, was fouled and hit both shots to give the Royals an 80-79 lead. On the ensuing TCNJ possession, Jackson Danzig stripped the ball from Carpenter and fed Bailey, who was fouled and sank two more free throws to make it 82-79 with 11.9 seconds left. Walley missed a game-tying 3-point attempt with 1.9 seconds left, but Scranton freshman Ben Bosland missed two free throws to give the Lions one more chance with 1.4 seconds left. However, a long inbounds pass sailed out of bounds and the Royals held on. “To get punched in the face like that right out of the gate and come back and pull it out, it shows us we’re mentally tough,” Bailey said. “As a young team, we can grow from that.” Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9100, ext. 5109; @swalshTT on Twitter TCNJ (5-5) — Glover 3-5 0-0 9; Jensen 2-5 1-2 6; Carpenter 5-12 6-8 18; Ringel 4-6 2-4 10; Walko 6-11 3-4 15; Byrne 0-0 0-0 0; Montano 2-3 2-2 8; Jocelyn 2-5 0-2 5; Egan 0-0 0-0 0; Keenan 1-4 0-0 2; Walley 2-4 0-0 6. Totals: 27-55 14-22 79 Scranton (9-0) — Mancuso 2-5 1-2 5; Danzig 5-13 5-6 19; Brockett 3-6 4-6 12; Bailey 9-17 4-4 22; DeVerna 2-9 6-6 11; Connelly 1-3 0-0 2; Bosland 1-4 0-2 2; Genasevich 3-4 1-2 9. Totals: 26-61 21-28 82. Halftime: TCNJ, 44-43. 3-point shooting: TCNJ 11-24 (Glover 3-4, Carpenter 2-2, Montano 2-2, Walley 2-4, Jensen 1-3, Jocelyn 1-4, Walko 0-3, Keenan 0-2); SCR 9-21 (Danzig 4-7, Brockett 2-4, Genasevich 2-2, DeVerna 1-3, Mancuso 0-1, Connelly 0-1, Bosland 0-1, Bailey 0-2). Rebounds: TCNJ 35 (Keenan 7); SCR 36 (Danzig, DeVerna 6). Assists: TCNJ 10 (Carpenter 3); SCR 21 (DeVerna 7); Steals: TCNJ 4 (Ringel 2); SCR 10 (Mancuso, Danzig, Brockett, Bosland 2). Blocks: TCNJ 2 (Glover, Jensen 1); SCR 6 (Danzig 2). Turnovers: TCNJ 17; SCR 11. Team fouls: TCNJ 22; SCR 20. Fouled out: Jensen; Mancuso.