UNION, N.J. (11/23/13) – Senior Mike Burton of the Kean University men's basketball team reached the 1,000-point plateau in the second half of the Cougars' Saturday afternoon matchup with Richard Stockton College. The Ospreys topped Kean 69-64 in both team's first NJAC action of the season.
Burton and Tom Soulias hit back-to-back threes to open the scoring for the Cougars. Kean and Stockton split the first 36 points of the game after J.J. Hladik and Burton hit one each from behind the arc. Josh Blamon of Stockton was 3-of-4 from deep early in the game as the teams continued to trade volleys from long range.
Midway through the first period, Ali Mix split two defenders with an up-and-under reverse layup that brought Kean within one, and then he set up Soulias for a layup that gave the Cougars the 22-21 lead.
The Ospreys re-took the lead, but Soulias (pictured left) hit a tough lay-in and then converted the ensuing free-throw for a traditional three-point play that gave Kean a one-point lead.
Then with five minutes to go in the first, Kevin Johnson scored five-straight points for the Ospreys as they opened up a 37-25 lead via a 13-0 run; it the first time either side had been up by more than three points.
Xavier Fuller answered back for the Cougars (2-1, 0-1 NJAC) with consecutive layups to cut the deficit back to single digits at the break with the score 39-31.
Early in the second half, Tim Steward knocked down a three-pointer from the wing and Kean went on a 6-0 run to make the score 49-42 and force a rattled Stockton side to call timeout.
With 12:30 to go in the game, Burton hit a three-pointer to cross the 1,000-point mark for his career. He is the 31st player in school history to earn admittance into the 1K club. That shot coupled with a fast-break layup by Mix made it one-possession game again at 50-47. The Cougar defense forced eight Stockton turnovers in the first 10 minutes of the second half to allow the hosts to climb back within striking distance.
As Kean continued to claw its way back, Soulias hit from behind the arc and Mix had a chance to tie the game with a bonus foul shot after a layup. From that point, however, the Ospreys went on a 7-0 run to go up by eight with 3:55 remaining.
Mix made things interesting with a traditional three-point play with 1:08 remaining that cut the Osprey lead down to just two with one minute to go, but Stockton (3-0, 1-0 NJAC) made just enough free throws down the stretch to escape with a 69-64 victory.
Kevin Johnson and Rameel Johnson both had 16 points to lead the Ospreys, while Soulias' 17 led all scorers in the contest.
The Cougars will continue NJAC play on Tuesday night when they host Ramapo College at 8 p.m.