Stevens Men’s Basketball Rallies Late to Stun No. 16 NJCU

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HOBOKEN, N.J. (November 13, 2018)  – The Stevens Institute of Technology men's basketball team rallied from a 17-point deficit to defeat No. 16 New Jersey City University 76-72 Tuesday in a non-conference game at a loud Canavan Arena. The game marked both teams' season opener.

Junior Spencer Cook sparked the rally with 20 second-half points and finished with a team-high 26. Sophomore Alec DiPietrantonio chipped in with nine points and a game-high nine rebounds and junior Michael Zignorski added 10 points and a pair of blocks for the Ducks, who won on opening night for the second time in the last three seasons. 

After scoring the first basket of the game, Stevens trailed throughout the contest before clawing all the way back to take the lead in the final two minutes of regulation. NJCU opened a 17-point lead after a Denzel Banks layup with 12:52 to play. Senior Frank Amari began the comeback with a pair of free throws and DiPietrantonio put Stevens up for good with a put-back basket in the final minute.

Jeff Haddock, Jr. matched Cook to lead the Gothic Knights with 26 points. 2018 All-American Sam Toney finished with 11 points on just 3-of-11 shooting before fouling out in the second half.

Stevens snapped NJCU's six-game winning streak in the all-time series. The last victory by the Ducks over their Hudson County counterparts came back in 1934, when Stevens nipped NJCU 21-19 (Courtesy of NJCU Athletic Communications). The Ducks' last victory over a ranked opponent occurred on February 21, 2015, when Stevens upended then-No. 16 St. John Fisher College 60-54 in Canavan Arena.

Pivotal Point

  • After rallying to grab a one-point lead with 1:24 left, Stevens again found itself on the wrong side of the score after a Haddock jumper.
  • Senior Jayson Winick drove down the court, only to see his layup spin off the rim. 
  • DiPietrantonio grabbed the ball as it caromed to the left side of the basket. The sophomore center quickly pushed the ball back towards the basket before returning to the ground.
  • The ball bounced off both the back and front of the rim before going through the cylinder.
  • Stevens held on to the lead over the remaining 43 seconds, courtesy of three NJCU offensive fouls and free throws from Winick, Zignorski and Cook.

Inside the Numbers

  • Stevens won the turnover battle, forcing 23 NJCU miscues to just 22 by the Ducks. Stevens turned the 23 turnovers into 26 points.
  • NJCU earned 42-33 advantage on the glass, including a 14-9 edge on the offensive boards. DiPietrantonio's four offensive rebounds led all players and his nine total boards marked a new career high.
  • Each team scored 11 fast-break points, while the guests outscored the home team 13-10 on second-chance points.
  • Banks came off the bench to score eight points, helping NJCU gain a 24-23 margin in points off the bench. Zignorski's 10 points off the bench led all players.
  • For the game, Stevens outshot NJCU, 45.8% to 36.7%. The advantage was especially noticeable in the second half, where the Ducks shot a sizzling 12-for-23 (52.1%) from the field in their comeback bid and held the Gothic Knights to 10-of-27.
  • Stevens made 25 free throws. Cook's 12 makes from the line were just four away from matching a program record. The Washington Township, New Jersey native went 11-of-12 from the line in the second half.
  • The teams equaled one another in points per possession (0.916).

Unsung Hero

  • Junior Dylan Walsh came off the bench to collect three steals and had a key layup during the furious comeback. The Staten Island, New York native was also part of the defensive unit that kept Toney, one of the nation's top scorers, to nearly 10 points under his scoring average from one season ago.

From the Court

  • "It's a great win for our guys and our program. Our guys did a great job battling through adversity, and made plays when it counted down the stretch. The student support created an atmosphere that was great, and I think our team benefited from it versus an NJCU team that is going to win a lot of games this year." - head coach Bobby Hurley.

Up Next

  • Stevens heads to Lancaster, Pennsylvania for the William Marshall Tip-Off. The Ducks open play in the two-day event with the program's first-ever contest against Hobart College.

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