UNION, N.J. (1/3/15) – Tommy Soulias scored a Kean University season-best 25 points but it was not enough to get by Nichols College in an 84-67 men's basketball contest on Saturday.
The Bison (6-4) used a relentless press from the start and leapt out to a 17-6 lead. Nichols made Kean (3-8) pay for every trip down the floor, as the first five points of the game for Kean came from the free-throw line after fouls.
Kean worked hard to cut the lead to 17-13 with a 6-0 run; Tim Steward hit a jumper and, after a Nichols turnover, J.J. Hladik fed Mike Diamond for three on an out-of-bounds play to spark the Cougar rally.
But the first half was ultimately about the Nichols execution. The Bison led wire-to-wire, enjoyed a 21-13 edge in rebounding, forced 11 turnovers and led 47-30 on the scoreboard.
With eight minutes to go in the game, Soulias gave a great individual effort, scoring six-straight points including a steal, two dribble-drives and a coast-to-coast breakaway layup. That run cut the Bison lead to 14.
After being nearly on pace for 100 points at halftime, the Kean defense held Nichols to just 18 points in the first 16 minutes of the second period.
The Cougars kept pace in the second, matching the Bison with 37 points but that still left the deficit 17 when the final horn sounded.
Jared Thompson scored 19 points off the bench to lead Nichols. Chris Johnson had a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds in a reserve role as well.
Steward (pictured left) led Kean with nine rebounds, and Soulias had eight. Kevin Grek had four assists for the Cougars.
Kean will be back to NJAC play on Wednesday with a road matchup against William Paterson University at 6 p.m.