HARRISONBURG, Va. (NJCUGothicKnights.com) | First-Team preseason All-American junior forward Sam Toney (Plainfield, NJ/Williamstown) demonstrated why that distinction was worthy, scoring 17 of his 28 points in the second half as the No. 16 ranked New Jersey City University men's basketball team defeated host Eastern Mennonite University, 76-67, in the opening round of the EMU Tip-Off Invitational on November 16. NJCU (1-1) won its first game of the season after a narrow defeat in its season opener.
Toney was the only Gothic Knight to hit a three, but that was fine because he buried seven of them. He shot a staggering 7-for-11 from three-point range—including the 125th of his career—and 10-of-19 overall from the field to break open a game tied at 40-40 at the half. Toney added seven rebounds. He became the fifth Gothic Knight in school history with at least 125 career threes. It was his eighth 25+ point performance of his career.
Senior power forward Yuri Brutus (Roselle, NJ/Roselle Park) delivered 11 points (3-6 FG), six rebounds and three assists and sophomore center Chika Wosu (Jersey City, NJ/University Academy Charter)) finished with nine rebounds and seven points. Junior shooting guard Jeff Haddock, Jr. (Burlington Township, NJ/Willingboro) finished with seven points and four assists and sophomore shooting guard Denzel Banks (Newark, NJ/(East Orange Campus) added seven points.
EMU (1-2) had five players score eight or more points, led by senior center Sammy Thomas (Owings, Md.) with 16 points (6-10 FG) and 10 rebounds. Senior guard Travis Clower (Romney, W.V.) finished with 10 points.
NJCU trailed by as many as 10 points (26-16) at the midway point of the first half before rallying in the second half after tying it at the intermission. The Knights committed just 11 turnovers in the game. Both teams struggled from the line, with EMU shooting just 14-of-29 and the Royals made just 3-of-15 from three-point distance against NJCU's perimeter defense.
NJCU trailed by eight (49-41) just 3:14 into the second half on a Thomas dunk and still trailed 55-52 with 9:54 to go. But a four-point play by Toney—a triple from the left arc and a free throw after being run over—put NJCU back in front, 56-55, for the first time since the first five minutes of the game.
An NBA-range three from the right side by Toney pushed the lead to 64-59 with 6:05 to go and when Toney connected on his seventh triple of the game from the right corner with 4:18 to go, the lead swelled to eight, 70-62, and the Royals didn't have a comeback in them.
- Series: First meeting between NJCU and Eastern Mennonite.
- Sam Toney (Plainfield, NJ/Williamstown) is now tied for fourth in school history in career three-pointers in far fewer games than anyone else in the top 5:
- Sam Toney (Plainfield, NJ/Williamstown) scored in double figures for the 45th time in 58 career games. He has scored 949 career points.
- Toney scored at least 20 points in a game for the 18th time in his career and the 15th time in his last 29 games.
- Day two of the EMU Tip-Off Invitational continues on Saturday, November 17 (1 p.m.) when the Knights face Bridgewater College (Va.) in a neutral site game. Bridgewater (1-0) defeated Mount Aloysius, 63-53, in Friday's other opening round game. It will be only the second meeting between the schools; NJCU defeated Bridgewater on November 21, 1998, 67-53, on a neutral court in Frostburg (Md.).
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