UNION, N.J. (12/5/15) – The Kean University men's basketball team got 25 points from senior Tommy Soulias to dispatch NJAC rival Rutgers-Camden 86-80 and earn the team's first win of the season on Saturday. All five Cougar starters were in double figures and Kean shot 56 percent from the floor in the game.
Kean started hot. A layup, steal, and another layup by Diego Pujols put the Cougars up 6-0 early.
The home squad played its best half of basketball of the year to start the game; they led 44-37 at halftime.
Pujols had 11 points at the break and had a few remarkable plays. In addition to the four quick points to start, twice he blew by his defender in isolation for easy lay-ins. He was also the recipient of one of Kevin Grek's alley-oop passes; Kean connected on three of them in the first half.
Soulias was also in double figures by the break. He hit four shots, including a long three-pointer from the midcourt logo. Jerry Crismond led Kean with four rebounds in the first half.
The Cougars fell behind for a stretch in the second half. Jonathan Baker-Jernigan led the Scarlet Raptors with 25 points, tied for the game-high total.
But Soulias then rattled off five-straight points, including a layup with 4:37 to go that gave Kean the lead again, 70-69. It was part of a 12-2 Cougar run that flipped the lead for good.
Camden did trim the cushion all the way to one with a minute to go on a three-pointer by Davis Graham. But Grek answered with his own long three-pointer late in the shot clock to put Kean back up four with 39 seconds to play. He went on to ice the game with two late free throws as Kean hung on for the exciting victory.
Kean shot 56 percent from the floor during the game. The Cougars forced 16 Rutgers turnovers and had 11 steals to the Raptors' three.
Grek (pictured left) was 5-for-5 in the game, including three hits from downtown. He also had five assists, five rebounds, a steal and no turnovers in a nearly flawless performance. Crismond also had a nice night, going 7-11 and tying Mike Diamond with a team-high seven rebounds.
Camden (1-5, 1-2 NJAC) finished with seven blocks in the game. Abby Bah had three to lead the Raptors.
The Cougars (1-6, 1-2 NJAC) will next head to Rutgers-Newark to take on the Scarlet Raiders on Wednesday, December 9.