UNION – The Kean University men’s basketball team nearly rallied from a 17-point second-half deficit, however University of Scranton held on for a 94-90 win over the host Cougars in non-conference action on Monday evening.
The five Royal starters accounted for all but five of the team’s points, with senior guard Luke Hawk, sophomore Travis Farrell and senior Zach Ashworth accounting for 81 of the team’s 94 points. Hawk led the Royals (5-2) with a game-high 31 points.
For Kean (5-3), senior Jonathan Jones posted his eighth straight double-double, finishing with 20 points and 13 rebounds, as the Cougars had their three game winning streak halted.
In a back-and-forth first half, the Cougars took an early four-point lead at 11-7 on a jumper by freshman Tim Steward just 2:07 into the game. The Royals answered with a 15-6 run to build a five-point lead at 22-17 following a pair of free throws by Farrell, before Kean responded with nine straight points, capped by a dunk by Jones for a 26-22 lead midway through the half.
The Royals later went on an 18-8 run to build a double-digit lead at 48-38, and after the Cougars pulled back to within four points at 48-44 on a lay-up by Ali Mix with 2:01 left in the half, the Royals closed the half by scoring the final seven points to lead by 11 points at 55-44 at the break.
Ashworth poured in 20 points in the opening half, while Farrell and Hawk scored 16 and 12 points, respectively, for the Royals. Jones scored 12 points for Kean in the first half.
Scranton opened the second half with the first four points to take a 59-44 lead, and would lead by as many as 17 points on two separate occasions. The Royals first used a 7-2 run to build a 66-49 lead following a three-pointer by Farrell and the two teams would trade baskets for the 68-51 Scranton advantage with just under 15 minutes remaining.
The Cougars trimmed the lead to single-digits for the first time in the second half, as rookie J.J. Hladik capped an 8-0 run with a three-pointer with 11:38 remaining to pull the Cougars to within 68-59. The Royals again pushed the lead out to double-digits, extending the lead out to 15 points on two more occasions, including an 85-70 advantage following a three-point play by Hawk with 5:38 remaining in the game.
Trailing 88-74 following a pair of free throws by Hawk with 3:21 left in the game, Kean knocked down three straight three-pointers, including two by freshman Michael Burton, to cut the Royal lead to 88-83 with just over two minutes left.
Scranton would knock down 4-of-6 free throws on the next three possessions and the Cougars could pull no closer than three-points following a three-pointer by Burton with four seconds left, before Hawk connected on 1-of-2 foul shots with one second to go to seal the win.
Burton scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half, while classmate Andrew Kirey added 16 points, three assists and two steals. Sophomore Mike Shaughnessy dished out nine assists and grabbed eight rebounds, while freshman Kyle Latorre hit all four of his shots from the floor en-route to 11 points off the bench. Hladik contributed three treys to finish with nine points and three steals off the bench.
Farrell and Ashworth each finished with 25 points apiece, with Farrell adding five assists and five steals.
The Cougars travel to Reading, Pa., on Wednesday, December 15, when they face host Alvernia University in non-conference action at 8 p.m.
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