EWING, N.J. – Despite a game-high 23 points from Randall Walko, The College of New Jersey dropped its season opener 82-65 to Swarthmore College Tuesday night in Packer Hall. The game was also the season opener for the 13th-ranked Garnet.
Swarthmore jumped out to a quick 8-0 lead fueled by a pair of buckets by Cam Wiley and a steal and score by George Visconti. Wiley finished with 12 points to go along with seven rebounds.
With the Garnet holding a 31-21 lead, TCNJ would turn to the bench for a spark to close the gap before the end of the first half. Liam Byrne, P.J. Ringel and Travis Jocelyn each scored as part of a 10-2 run as the Lions would cut the halftime deficit to just three at 36-33. Jocelyn scored 11 points off the bench.
A three by Walko to start the second half would produce the first tie since 0-0, and less than a minute later Niall Carpenter would give TCNJ its first lead of the game at 40-39. Carpenter scored eight points in the contest.
Neither team was able take control until holding a 60-58 lead, Swarthmore used a three by Visconti and a block by Zac O'Dell to spark a 7-0 run. O'Dell had four of the Garnet's six blocks.
A Carpenter lay-up with 3:25 to go would cut the Garnet lead to 70-65, but a 12-0 Swarthmore run to close out the game capped by a pair of free throws from Conor Harkins would produce the final score. Harkins led the Garnet with 20 points.
Swarthmore had five players score double digit points as Visconti and O'Dell each scored 14 and Nate Shafer added 10. O'Dell and Shafer each had a game-high 10 rebounds.
Walko and Jordan Glover each nabbed five boards to pace the Lions.
Offensive rebounding was the key to the game. Swarthmore used 19 offensive boards to maintain a 51-37 overall rebounding advantage and 17-11 edge in second chance points.
The Lions return to the Court Friday, Nov. 16 when they travel to Rochester, N.Y. to face Cazenovia College in the opening round of the BSG Tip-Off Tournament.