JERSEY CITY, N.J. (NJCUGothicKnights.com) | The New Jersey City University men's basketball team used a 20-5 first half run to seize control, and made a statement when it led by as many as 27 points late in the second half before defeating two-time defending New Jersey Athletic Conference champion Ramapo, 86-71, in league action on January 9 at the John J. Moore Athletics and Fitness Center (Coach Charlie Brown Court).
NJCU has won five of its last six games and is now 11-4 overall and at 6-2 in the league, locked in a three-way tie with Montclair State and TCNJ for first place. Ramapo, the two-time defending NJAC champions, fell to 10-5, 4-4 in the NJAC, and have dropped three straight since a 10-2 start to the year.
On a night where the NJCU bench outscored the Ramapo reserves by a 56-18 margin, senior forward James Julius (Linden, NJ/Linden) came into the game and helped turn a 15-9 deficit with 13:34 to go in the first half into a 29-20 lead with 6:00 on the clock. He capped the run with a triple and was one of five Gothic Knights to produce during the game-changing stretch. Junior preseason First-Team All-American Sam Toney (Plainfield, NJ/Williamstown) scored seven during the outbreak.
Julius would hit two more threes in the half and finished the day with 14 points, nine rebounds and two blocks while Toney collected a game-high 17 points in 19 minutes with five rebounds and three assists as the reigning NJAC Player of the Week.
Also for NJCU, sophomore shooting guard Denzel Banks (Newark, NJ/(East Orange Campus) scored 12 in 17 minutes with five rebounds and senior shooting guard Lavrone Green (Teaneck, NJ/Teaneck) had 10 points in 15 minutes with three assists. In all, 14 players saw at least five minutes of action and 11 scored, with 12 grabbing a rebound and 10 players collecting at least one assist.
Senior guard Kashaun Barnes (Toms River, N.J.) entered the day as the league's leading scorer and finished with 15 points and six rebounds. Freshman guard Jason Battle (Jersey City, N.J.) added 14 (4-9 FG) and senior forward Rob Lewis (Scotch Plains, N.J.), who entered the day averaging a double-double on the season, was limited to 11 points on six shots and six rebounds in 32 minutes.
After claiming control of the game, NJCU was up 35-27 with 2:52 to go in the half before igniting for an 11-2 outburst to go to the intermission leading by 17, 46-29. Julius buried threes with 2:00 and 22 seconds left to punctuate the streak.
Green pushed the margin to 20 on the opening NJCU possession of the second half and cruised from there. NJCU's largest lead came with 5:48 left when junior Keshawn Alexander (Orange, NJ/Orange) hit his first three-pointer since the 2015-16 season, to make it an 84-57 contest before the Knights cleared the bench.
- Series: 94th meeting. NJCU leads all-time series, 68-26.
- Sam Toney (Plainfield, NJ/Williamstown) scored in double figures for the 55th time in 71 career games.
- Toney moved into 19th place in school history with 1,167 points. He passed NJCU Hall-of-Famer Ed Petersen (1156 points, 1962-66) and current assistant coach Walik Albright (1160 points, 2009-12, 13-14) on the all-time list.
- Lavrone Green (Teaneck, NJ/Teaneck) scored in double figures for the 29th time in 42 games as a Gothic Knight and the eighth time this season.
- James Julius (Linden, NJ/Linden) scored 10+ points for the third time this season and the 22nd time in his collegiate career. The 14 points were a season high.
- Denzel Banks (Newark, NJ/(East Orange Campus) scored in double figures for the eighth time in 15 games in his first year as a Gothic Knight.
- NJCU heads to Camden, N.J, to face Rutgers-Camden on Saturday, January 12 (3 p.m.) to close the first half of the conference slate.
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