NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NJCUGothicKnights.com) | New Jersey City University wasn't going to go a full season without a loss and after a 9-0 start to the year, the Gothic Knight men's basketball team tasted defeat for the first time on December 29 in the opening round of the Captains Shootout. Johns Hopkins University used a 17-2 run midway through the second half and pulled away from 17th ranked NJCU, 72-56, at the Freeman Center.
In the first-ever meeting between the schools, Hopkins, whose only loss was against another nationally ranked team in its last game (December 6 at Franklin & Marshall), improved to 8-1 overall, paced by a game-high 30 points from junior guard Michael Gardner (New York, N.Y.).
NJCU (9-1), which was 9-0 for the first time in the 85-year history of the program, and entered the game No. 17 in the latest D3hoops.com Top 25 national poll, trailed by just four at the half (30-26), but couldn't find an answer to the Blue Jays long-range success. Hopkins shot 14-of-27 from three-point range in the upset (51.9 percent).
NJCU scored a season-low 56 points and its starting lineup was limited to just 31 as a group. Hopkins scored 28 points (28-14) off 14 NJCU giveaways. The Knights never led in the game.
NJCU junior shooting guard Lavrone Green (Teaneck, NJ/Teaneck), the December 19 Division III National Player of the Week, was the only Gothic Knight to score in double figures, finishing with exactly 10 (4-9 FG) in 27 minutes. Junior center Yuri Brutus (Roselle, NJ/Roselle Park) collected nine points (4-7 FG) and six rebounds in 18 minutes. Junior guard Robert Gordon (Maplewood, NJ/Columbia) scored eight off the bench (3-6 FG, 2-4 3G) as 25 points came from the NJCU bench.
Sophomore power forward Sam Toney (Plainfield, NJ/Williamstown) was limited to five points (2-8 FG), five rebounds and two blocks—the first time in his career he has been held to single digits in the box score in consecutive games.
Gardner scored 16 of the 30 points in the first half for the Blue Jays and was lights out from three-point range, shooting 8-of-12 in the game. Overall, he shot 10-of-20 with seven defensive rebounds.
Freshman guard Joey Kern (Norwalk, Iowa) went 5-for-10 from three-point distance and finished with 17 points while freshman guard Conner Delaney (Garnet Valley, Pa.) was 5-of-7 from the floor and tallied 15 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Those three players combined for 62 of the 72 points; no other Hopkins player scored more than three.
Hopkins led by nine (26-17) with 5:35 remaining in the first half on Gardner's fourth three of the opening period. NJCU was able to whittle the deficit to two before heading to the break down by four (30-26).
NJCU was still in the game, down eight, after a Green jumper with 12:37 to go in the second half. But the Blue Jays knocked down back-to-back threes as Gardner and Kern sparked the decisive 17-2 run. Gardner buried three more triples in a row—at the 8:10, 7:39 and 5:44 marks—to extend the lead to 23, 63-40, and the Gothic Knights couldn't muster a comeback as they had at Albertus Magnus in their last game
- Series: First meeting.
- Lavrone Green (Teaneck, NJ/Teaneck) reached double figures in scoring for the eighth time in 10 games as a Gothic Knight. For Green, it was the 25th double digit scoring effort of his collegiate career.
- NJCU's previous season low was 68 points in a win at Rutgers-Newark on November 21.
- NJCU's first game in 13 days (December 16 vs. Albertus Magnus).
- NJCU will play in the tournament consolation game on December 30 at 4 p.m. against the loser of the Christopher Newport University/Shenandoah University matchup. NJCU is 1-1 all-time against the Captains and has never met Shenandoah.
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