CAMDEN, N.J. (1/7/17) – Both the Rutgers University-Camden and Kean University men's basketball teams put everything on the line Saturday in an attempt to capture their first victory of the season.
After 17 lead changes and eight ties, it was the Scarlet Raptors who pulled away with a 68-56 victory in New Jersey Athletic Conference action.
Rutgers-Camden improves to 1-9 overall and 1-6 in the NJAC. Kean, which falls to 0-13 overall and 0-7 in the NJAC, still leads the all-time series, 56-23.
In a first half that featured eight lead changes and five ties, the Cougars took a 36-35 halftime lead on a three-pointer by sophomore guard Justin Watson (pictured left) with four seconds remaining in the half. Watson had 12 first-half points for the Cougars, including three treys. Sophomore guard Elijah Robles had 11 points for the Scarlet Raptors at the break.
The second half started with more of the same as the teams were never separated by more than three points until the Scarlet Raptors finally took the lead for good, aided by a technical foul that was converted into two successful foul shots by senior guard Julian Martin with 7:10 remaining. The first shot produced the eighth tie of the game, at 48-48, and the second gave the Raptors the lead for good, 49-48.
Retaining possession, Martin made a layup to put the Raptors on top, 51-48, which was Rutgers-Camden's biggest lead of the night to that point. He was fouled on the play and, after missing the foul shot, sophomore center Isaac Destin grabbed the rebound. Moments later, Martin fed senior forward Dior Johnson for a layup and a five-point Raptor lead, 53-48. Kean never came closer than three points (53-50) the rest of the way.
The Scarlet Raptors' attack was led by newcomer Sean Taylor, a sophomore guard who poured in a game-high 16 points in his first Rutgers-Camden appearance. Taylor and junior guard Charlie Riccardi both scored eight points in the second half to lead the offense. Martin added six points in the final 20 minutes.
Kean received 15 points apiece from Watson and sophomore forward Micah Kerr. Kerr added a team-high six rebounds, while Watson's four assists tied the Raptors' Robles for game-high honors. Senior guard Kevin Grek tied the Raptors' Martin with a game-high three steals.
In addition to Sean Taylor, Robles finished with 14 points, six rebounds and four assists. Destin added a double-double of 12 points and a game-high 12 rebounds for Rutgers-Camden, his second double-double in three games during the week. Martin finished with nine points and three steals, while Riccardi had eight points, all in the second half.
Rutgers-Camden shot 24-for-46 (52.2 percent) from the floor, while Kean went 19-for-53 (35.8). The Scarlet Raptors also held a 36-25 advantage off the boards.
Kean hosts William Paterson University in an 8 p.m. NJAC game on Wednesday. The Scarlet Raptors return to action Monday when they host undefeated Neumann University in a 7 p.m. non-conference game.