UNION, N.J. (1/14/12) – William Paterson University used a strong late second half surge to pull past host Kean University, 67-56, in New Jersey Athletic Conference action on Saturday afternoon.
Junior guard Corey Chandler led the Pioneers (13-2, 5-1 NJAC) with a game-high 26 points, while Kean sophomore Michael Burton netted 16 points for the Cougars (3-14, 2-4 NJAC).
The Cougars took a 48-47 lead on a jumper by sophomore Kyle Latorre with just under seven minutes remaining, however a three-pointer by WPU junior guard Rick DeStefano gave the Pioneers the lead for good with 5:37 remaining, igniting a 14-0 run that would extend the WPU lead to 61-48 following a pair of free throws by Chandler with 1:15 remaining. A three-pointer by Burton halted the run and cut the lead to 10 points, but the Pioneers knocked all six free throws in the final 62 seconds to seal the win.
In a back-and-forth first half, neither team led by more than three points, as the opening 20 minutes featured eight ties and 12 lead changes. The Pioneers scored six straight points to erase a three-point deficit and take a three-point lead with 7:12 remaining on a three-pointer by junior Lance Brown, but the Cougars would score five straight points late in the half to take a 29-26 lead on a three-point play by junior Mike Shaughnessy with 1:37 to go.
DeStefano tied the game with a three-pointer and a dunk by Chandler would give the Pioneers the two point lead with just under a minute left, before Burton knocked down a three-pointer with 28 seconds remaining to give Kean a 32-31 lead at the break.
Burton led the Cougars with 11 points, while sophomore Ryan Duffy (pictured left) came off the bench to knock down a pair of three-pointers en-route to eight first half points in just six minutes. Chandler and Brown each reached double figures in the first half, as Brown had 11 points and Chandler added 10 points, three assists and three steals.
After the Pioneers opened the second half with a lay-up by Chander to regain the lead, Kean scored five straight points to build its largest lead at 37-33 on the three-pointer by junior Anthony Gibson. The two teams again traded the lead over the next eight minutes, before a lay-up by Chandler gave the Pioneers a 47-42 lead with 10:25 left in the game.
Kean responded with six straight points, regaining the lead one final time on a jumper by Latorre, before the three-pointer by DeStefano put WPU back on top for good, as the Pioneers outscored the Cougars 20-8 in the final 5:37 of the game.
Burton knocked four three-pointers for Kean, while Duffy finished with three treys, as he scored 13 points in just 10 minutes off the bench.
Chandler finished with 26 points, four assists and four steals, while Brown had a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. DeStafano added 14 points, hitting 4-of-6 from long range. As a team, the Pioneers knocked down all 14 of their free throws, with all 10 second-half free throws coming in the final 1:37 of the game.
Kean travels to College of State Island on Monday, January 16, for a non-conference game. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m.