UNION – Senior Jonathan Jones scored a game-high 28 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, however the Kean University men’s basketball team fell to Stevens Institute of Technology, 80-77, in the home opener on Monday evening.
Junior guard Mike Cutri led the Ducks (4-1) with 22 points on the strength of 4-of-5 shooting from three-point range and 6-of-7 shooting from the foul line.
Jones recorded his fourth straight double-double for the Cougars (2-2), while junior guard Ali Mix added 19 points in his first game of the season.
In a back-and-forth first half that featured eight ties and five lead change, the Ducks led by as many as seven points at 25-18 on a three-pointer by Cutri with 8:32 remaining in the first half.
The Cougars went on a 12-0 run to regain the lead, as Mix opened the run with five points and Jones closed the run the five straight points for the 30-25 edge with 5:42 remaining. However, Stevens scored eight straight points for the 33-30 advantage, before Mix had a three-point play with four seconds left to tie the game at 33-33 at the half.
The two teams exchanged the lead in the opening minute of the second half, before the Cougars built a pair of five-point leads in the first six minutes of the half.
Kean first took a 47-42 lead less than three minutes into the half, and after the Ducks tied the game for the 11th time at 47-47, Kean again extended the lead to five points at 53-48 on a pair of back-to-back dunks by Jones and a lay-up by sophomore Diego Gutierrez with 14:42 left in the game.
Cutri answered with a four-point play to pull the Ducks to within one point and after five lead changes and three ties over the next six minutes, Stevens took the lead for good on a lay-up by sophomore Sheldon Jones with 8:18 remaining.
After the Ducks extended the lead out to six points at 71-65, the Cougars were able to pull as close as two points on five occasions, however Cutri knocked down three foul shots in the final 17 seconds to seal the Duck victory.
Mix added three assists and three steals and Jones had three blocks and three steals, while rookie Michael Burton added 12 points.
For the Ducks, Sheldon Jones had 20 points on 9-of-13 shooting and dished out seven assists, while senior Bryan Franklin and freshman Patrick Sabatino chipped in with 11 points apiece. Junior forward Simon Smith grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds for the Ducks, who shots nearly 57 percent (29-of-51) from the floor.
Kean opens New Jersey Athletic Conference action on Wednesday, December 1, when the Cougars host The College of New Jersey in a doubleheader. The men’s game is slated to being at 8 p.m.
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