Fuller Leads Kean Men Past TCNJ, 55-42; Cougars Clinch NJAC Tourney Berth
EWING, N.J. (2/8/12) – Sophomore center Xavier Fuller came off the bench to score a career-high 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting to help lead the Kean University men's basketball team to a 55-42 win over The College of New Jersey in New Jersey Athletic Conference South Division action on Wednesday evening.
With the win, the Cougars (6-18, 5-7 NJAC) clinched a berth in the NJAC playoffs. TCNJ (8-16, 2-10 NJAC) was led by Albert Matlock, who finished with a game-high 17 points.
The Cougars, who led for much of the first half, used a 7-0 run midway through the half to take a 15-7 lead with 9:57 remaining on a layup by senior Andrew Kirey. TCNJ would eventually pull to within 21-20 on a pair of free throws by Matlock, before Fuller (pictured left) had a layup and two free throws in the final two minutes of the half to give Kean the three point lead at 25-22 at the break.
Fuller hit 3-of-4 shots from the floor and all three of his free throws to score nine points and grab five rebounds in the first half. Matlock led the Lions with 11 points, hitting all six of his foul shots.
A three-pointer by Matlock opened the second half for the Lions, and TCNJ would regain the lead in the early minutes, leading by as many as four points at 33-29 with 13:34 remaining. A pair of foul shots from Kean sophomore Kyle Latorre cut the TCNJ lead in half, before junior guard Branly Cadet gave the Cougars the lead for good at 34-33 with the three-pointer at the 12:12 mark.
Cadet (pictured right) knocked down a second three-pointer on Kean's next possession to extend the lead to four points and the Cougars would eventually use a 8-0 run to build a double-digit lead following back-to-back layups by Fuller with 6:42 remaining.
TCNJ scored five straight points to cut the lead in half at 47-42, however the Cougars closed the game with the final eight points to pull away for the 13-point victory.
Fuller hit 6-of-7 shots from the floor en-route to his 15 points in 19 minutes of action off the bench. Sophomore guard Michael Burton added 11 points and three steals in the win, as the Cougars shot nearly 50 percent from the floor (20-of-42, 47.6%) and held a 33-24 advantage in rebounds.
Kirey finished with eight points and a game-high seven rebounds in the win, as the Cougars also outscored the Lions, 33-10, off the bench.
The Cougars, who are battling with Rowan University for the #2 seed in the South Division, close out the regular season next Wednesday, February 15, when the Cougars host Richard Stockton College at 8 p.m.