UNION, N.J. (1/6/16) – The Kean University men's basketball team used a 45-point second half to top William Paterson University 78-73 in an NJAC matchup on Wednesday night. The Cougars shot 54 percent from the floor and made nine threes in the game.
Kean's Micah Kerr hit a jumper off the glass to take lead five minutes into the game at 10-9. It was the first of six lead changes in the opening half, which ended with the Pioneers holding a one-point lead. Zach Frick made four three-pointers in the first 20 minutes to lead his side.
Mike Diamond had a steal and lay-in to start the second period and give Kean the lead. Paterson made a 3 on the next trip down the floor, but Tommy Soulias answered with a trey of his own to put the Cougars back on top.
At 16:29, Justin Watson swished a long three-pointer to give the Cougars their first two-possession lead of the evening and force Paterson to call timeout.
The second half of Wednesday's contest had the feeling of a back-and-forth volleyball match. The two sides stayed within arm's length of each other; the Cougars' lead fluctuated from six to one in the second half's middle minutes.
With 8:11 to go, Keenan Williams Jr. set up Soulias for a backdoor layup that gave Kean a new largest lead at 61-54. Jerry Crismond added another bucket to bump the difference up to nine points and force another timeout.
After the Pioneers cut the lead all the way down to two, Diego Pujols made two acrobatic layups in traffic, plus a foul, to put Kean up five with two minutes to go.
On the next trip down the floor, Watson drove and kicked to Soulias, who eyed up a three and drained it for a 74-68 lead.
With Kean up by four and less than a minute remaining the Kean defense stepped up: Kerr had a clean rejection in the paint and Pujols stole the ball to rub out any chance of a Pioneer comeback.
Pujols finished 6-for-8 from the floor and led all players with seven assists. Soulias, who hit five threes, paced the Cougars with 19 points. Soulias (pictured left) and Watson had seven and six boards, respectively to lead the team. Pujols and Diamond paced Kean with three steals each.
Frick of WPU finished with 26 points to lead all scorers in the game. Kean is now 2-9 and 2-4 in the NJAC. Paterson is 7-5 and also 2-4 in the league.
The Cougars will be on the road this Saturday for an NJAC matchup at 1 p.m. against Rowan University.