NEWARK, N.J. (NJCUGothicKnights.com) | Junior shooting guard Lavrone Green (Teaneck, NJ/Teaneck) scored 19 of his game-high 21 points in the second half and was the decisive player down the stretch as the New Jersey City University men's basketball team finished off Rutgers-Newark on the road, 68-54, in the 2017-18 New Jersey Athletic Conference opener for both schools on November 21 at The Golden Dome. NJCU is 4-0 to open a season for the first time since the 2013-14 season.
Green, who scored just two in the first half (1-6 FG) was unstoppable in the final seven minutes. Leading 50-44, he scored 14 consecutive points for the Gothic Knights and 16 of the final 18 for his team in just his fourth game in a Gothic Knight uniform. He finished the day with 21 points in 28 minutes, shooting 8-for-17 (3-7 3 FG).
NJCU never trailed and led for more than 38:18 of the action. Rutgers-Newark is 1-2 (0-1 NJAC). It was a cleanly-played game with just 15 turnovers for R-N and 13 for NJCU.
Sophomore power forward Sam Toney (Plainfield, NJ/Williamstown) had an off shooting effort (seven points, 3-10 FG) but locked down the boards with a game-high 11 caroms, including 10 on the defensive glass. Junior point guard Shaquan Worthy (Trenton, NJ/Trenton Central) had career highs in both points (10) and rebounds (7) while adding four assists and two steals.
Junior center Yuri Brutus (Roselle, NJ/Roselle Park) added nine points—eight in the first half when he shot 4-for-5 from the floor—and junior small forward James Julius (Linden, NJ/Linden) finished with seven points and six rebounds.
Rutgers-Newark entered the day with two of the top three scorers in the league in sophomore guard Chase Barneys (Woodbridge, N.J.) and senior guard Erick Loften-Harris (Brooklyn, N.Y.), who averaged 21.0 and 19.5, respectively through two games. NJCU's defense held the duo to a combined 22.
Barney did notch 17 points on a high-volume shooting night (4-19 FG, 4-11 3FG) in 39 minutes while Loften-Harris was limited to five points (2-7 FG), five rebounds and four assists in 34 minutes before fouling out. Junior forward Mark Thomas (Newark, N.J.) had 12 points (6-9 FG) and eight rebounds. Senior center Dave Lunsford (East Orange, N.J.) finished with nine points and six rebounds and junior guard Tyler Ofray (Newark, N.J.) collected seven points and five board. The rest of the Scarlet Raider bench had just four points.
NJCU led by seven at halftime, shooting 51.7 percent (15-29) in the first half. Toney (3-6 FG) scored all seven of his points and had six rebounds in the first 20 minutes. Thomas (4-6 FG) had eight for R-N in the period with three others tallying five points.
Both teams shooting diminished in the second half but NJCU maintained a comfortable margin, pushing it to a dozen with 12:55 left. After R-N trimmed it to six with 7:33 left (50-44), Green, who in cored 19 of NJCU's final 21 points—all in the final eight minutes—took over.
With 7:54 left, Green buried a three from the left corner to extend the lead to 50-41. After a timeout, Barneys answered with a three but Green hit a long jumper (52-44). A R-N tip in with 6:31 to go cut it to 52-46. With 6:05 to go and four seconds on the shot clock, Green drilled a three from the right arc (55-46) for his 10th point. Green buried another straight away three to extend the lead back to 12 (58-46).
Barneys hit an NBA range three to cut it to 58-49, but on the ensuing possession, Green was fouled from three-point range. A great free throw shooter entering the day (13-14, .929), he made 2-of-3 for a 60-49 lead and NJCU led by double figures the rest of the way. Green took it strong to the rim for his 17th point with 1:52 left (62-51). He again drove to the rim for his 19th point with 1:26 to go and with under 30 seconds left, Green swooped to the rim to finish off his first NJCU 20-point performance to put an exclamation mark on the win.
- Series: 82nd meeting. NJCU leads all-time, 65-17 (won last 5)
- NJCU was 5-0 to open the 2013-14 campaign and 11-1 last year (2016-17). NJCU was also 6-0 to open the 2011-12 season.
- Lavrone Green (Teaneck, NJ/Teaneck)'s NJCU high of 21 points was the third time in four games he has scored in double figures for NJCU.
- Green was among the top freshmen in the league in 2014-15 at Montclair State, where he averaged 14.7 points. It was the 20th double digit scoring effort of his collegiate career and 10th time he has scored 20+ in a collegiate game.
- Shaquan Worthy (Trenton, NJ/Trenton Central)'s previous scoring high was nine in the 2015 NJAC semifinals (February 24, 2015) in the final game of his freshman season. He also had nine in his last meeting with Rutgers-Newark in Newark on January 18, 2017. His previous rebounding high was five, at TCNJ (January 28, 2017).
- After the holiday break, NJCU heads to Long Island to take on unanimous preseason Skyline Conference favorite Farmingdale State College on Saturday, November 25 (2 p.m.) in Farmingdale, N.Y. The Rams are the defending league champions. It will be the first meeting between the schools since December 3, 2009 in Jersey City, a game won by NJCU, 89-78. NJCU is 8-2 all-time in 10 meetings.
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