Wayne, N.J. (2/22/12) – The 13th ranked William Paterson University Pioneers used a strong second half to defeat the Kean University men's basketball team, 72-56, in the semifinals of the New Jersey Athletic Conference Tournament Wednesday evening.
With the loss the Cougars end the season with a 7-20 mark while the Pioneers (23-3) move on to face Richard Stockton College in the NJAC Championship on Saturday evening. Stockton defeated Ramapo College, 89-87 in double overtime.
Junior Lance Brown of the Pioneers led all scorers with 19 points. Senior Andrew Kirey led Kean with 17 points.
A 16-4 run turned a 36-33 game with 14:36 remaining into a 15-point lead for William Paterson as six different Pioneers scored during the span (52-37, 8:31). That advantage never dipped below 11 for the remainder of the contest as William Paterson shot 53.3 (16-30) percent during the second period and 50.0 (26-52) percent overall. The Pioneers out-rebounded the Cougars 38-17.
The Pioneers jumped out to an early advantage, scoring 12 of the game's first 15 points during the opening five minutes. The Cougars answered with a quick 10-0 run, capped by a Kirey dunk, to nudge Kean ahead, 13-12, with 11:09 on the clock.
Seven lead changes marked the next five minutes until back-to-back scores gave WP a 22-19 lead at the 5:26 mark. The Pioneers made it a 25-21 with 2:24 left, but Mike Shaughnessy converted a WP turnover into two points (25-23, 0:51), and another miscue allowed Kean to streak the other way during the waning seconds. William Paterson was whistled for an intentional foul with 0.6 second remaining and Shaughnessy missed both free throws, but sophomore Kyle Latorre hit a short baseline jumper on the resulting Cougar inbounds play, knotting the score at 25-25 as the buzzer sounded to end the first period.
Sophomore Ryan Duffy finished with 10 points and three steals.