UNION, N.J. (1/25/14) – Senior Ali Mix scored 26 points and the Kean University men's basketball team exploded for 53 second-half points in a 91-62 NJAC victory over The College of New Jersey on Saturday. The Cougars are now 10-6 on the year and 6-4 in the NJAC.
Kean fell behind early and gave up three-straight left-handed layups to begin the game. But after a timeout less than a minute in, the Cougars went on an 11-2 run to take their first lead of the day. Mix had five points in that stretch to lead the offense.
TCNJ fought back to tie it and Eric Klacik hit a three-pointer to put the Lions back on top. Both teams had trouble shooting the ball in the early going, shooting a combined 38 percent from the floor in the first 12 minutes of the matchup. Klacik hit an impressive three-pointer while being fouled and completed the four-point play to break another tie a few minutes later.
The game's momentum ebbed continuously from one end to the other; with Kean trailing by two, Mix's three from the wing put Kean back ahead with four minutes to go in the first. Mike Diamond hit another trey on the Cougars' next trip down the floor and Kyle Latorre followed with a layup as Kean took its largest lead to that point.
The Cougars ended the half on a 15-4 run and in so doing completely shifted their shooting percentage; by halftime Kean was 15-32 from the floor. Mix led all scorers with 13 points at the break and Xavier Fuller had six boards at that time.
Over the first eight minutes of the second half the teams played a continuous game of 'can-you-top-this?' as the two sides split the first 34 points of the period exactly in half. Mike Burton and Mix both hit acrobatic layups to highlight the second-half play for the Cougars.
Kean began to pull away with eight minutes to go. J.J. Hladik (pictured left) hit back-to-back threes and then set up Burton with a great bounce pass for a lay-in that capped an 8-0 run and opened up a 22 point cushion for the hosts.
The rest of the matchup was academic. By the end, 12 different Kean players had filled the scoring column. Fuller (12 points/9rebounds) and Latorre (8 points/9 rebounds) both narrowly missed double-doubles. Tom Soulias led Kean in rebounds with 10, and the Cougar bench combined for 31 points.
TCNJ fell to 7-11 and 5-6 in the league with the setback.
The Cougars will return to the hardwood in 24 hours for a Sunday matchup with Division I Princeton University for a 2 p.m. matchup with the Tigers at Jadwin Gym.