UNION – Senior forward Jonathan Jones netted his 1,000th career point and hit the game-winner with four seconds remaining to lift the Kean University men’s basketball team to a 75-74 win over DeSales University in non-conference action on Tuesday evening.
Jones recorded his 11th double-double of the season with 14 points and 17 rebounds, while also adding a career-high five assists, four blocks and two steals for the Cougars (8-3).
For DeSales (6-3), junior forward Bob Zanneo, sophomore forward Brett Moyer and senior guard Brian Hunter combined for 57 of the team’s 74 points.
The Bulldogs erased a double-digit second half deficit and would use a 13-2 run to take a 70-69 lead after a four-point play by Hunter with just 1:52 remaining in the game. The Cougars answered right back with a three-pointer by rookie Andrew Kirey to regain the lead, before a lay-up by Moyer tied the game at 72-72 with minute left.
With Kean in their offensive halfcourt set, Jones dumped the ball down low to freshman Kyle Latorre, who was fouled and hit the second of two free throw attempts for the one-point lead with 39 seconds left. The lead was short-lived, as Hunter scored on a lay-up 14 seconds later to take the lead for the Bulldogs.
On the ensuing Cougar possession, freshman Michael Burton’s three-pointer was off the mark, however Jones grabbed the offensive board and made the put-back for the decisive basket with just four ticks left on the clock.
After the DeSales timeout, Hunter launched a three-pointer from well outside the arc and Jones secured the miss to seal the Cougar win.
In the opening half, the Bulldogs built an eight-point lead on several occasions, including the 20-12 advantage midway through the half, before the Cougars scored 16 straight points to take a 28-20 lead. Latorre opened the run with a jumper and rookie J.J. Hladik knocked down three from beyond the arc, including back-to-back three-pointers to cap the run with 3:20 remaining in the first half.
A lay-up by Hunter halted the run, however Hladik knocked down three foul shots after being fouled on a three-pointer and his fourth three-pointer of the game closed out the scoring in the first half to extend the Cougar lead to 34-22 at the break.
Hladik scored all of his career-high 15 points in the opening half, while Jones had 11 rebounds for the Cougars. For DeSales, Moyer had nine points and five rebounds.
The Cougars opened the second half with back-to-back three-pointers by Burton to extend the lead to 40-22 just 91 seconds into the half and led 47-32 after a lay-up by Jones with 15:41 remaining. The Bulldogs scored the game’s next nine points with Hunter opening the run with a lay-up and two foul shots, before the three-point play by sophomore guard Brian Kerwin pulled DeSales to within 47-41 just 1:19 later.
Kean extended the lead back out to double digits on three more occasions, including one final time at 58-48 when Jones banked in the jumper off the inbounds pass from sophomore Anthony Gibson with 9:18 left, becoming the 30th player in program history to reach the milestone with the basket.
After the Bulldogs cut the lead in half at 64-59, Jones kicked the ball out to freshman Kenny Pace after being double-teamed and Pace knocked down the three-pointer to give the Cougars the 67-59 lead with 5:21 remaining in the game. The Bulldogs then answered with their 13-2 run to take their first lead of the second half.
Burton scored all 17 of his points in the second half, as he finished with a career-best five three-pointers. Latorre finished with 10 points in 15 minutes of action off the bench and sophomore Mike Shaughnessy added seven assists in the win.
Zanneo scored a game-high 20 points off the bench, while Moyer added a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Hunter finished with 18 points, four steals and three assists for the Bulldogs.
Kean has eight days off before returning to action at the Zimmerman Memorial Classic in Springfield, Ohio, as the face off against Wittenberg on Wednesday, December 29, at 7 p.m.
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