JERSEY CITY, N.J. (NJCUGothicKnights.com) | Sophomore shooting guard Denzel Banks (Newark, NJ/(East Orange Campus) helped ignite an 18-2 first half run that allowed No. 16 ranked New Jersey City University to pull away and the Gothic Knights won their 2018-19 home opener against previously unbeaten Farmingdale State College, 85-77, on November 24 at the John J. Moore Athletics and Fitness Center (Coach Charlie Brown Court).
NJCU trailed 13-7 with 14:26 to go in the first half before using its transition game to turn a six-point deficit into a 10-point, 25-15 lead with 7:38 to go—all told an 18-2 spurt over a span of 6:48. It was one of three runs in the game that made NJCU too much to overcome.
The Knights, ranked No. 16 nationally by D3hoops.com in the preseason, win their fourth straight game to improve to 4-1 overall. Farmingdale, which received five first-place votes in the Skyline Conference preseason poll and is traditionally one of the stronger teams alongside NJCU in the Atlantic Region, dropped to 3-1.
NJCU's top two performers both came in off the bench to spark the team. Banks scored 14 of his 20 points in the first half and finished with an incredible +/- of 26. He shot 9-of-18 overall (2-4 3FG) with six assists and five rebounds. Senior point guard Shaquan Worthy (Trenton, NJ/Trenton Central) had a +/- of 33, dishing eight assists versus just one turnover and had five points and four steals.
Junior shooting guard Jeff Haddock, Jr. (Burlington Township, NJ/Willingboro) added 12 points (3-7 FG, 5-6 FT) and senior power forward Salomon Pierre (East Orange, NJ/Bloomfield Tech) had his best game as a Gothic Knight, scoring a career-high 10 points with four rebounds and three steals, producing a +17 stat line.
Also for NJCU, senior power forward Yuri Brutus (Roselle, NJ/Roselle Park) scored nine (4-6 FG), sophomore center Chika Wosu (Jersey City, NJ/University Academy Charter)) had nine points (4-5 FG) and five boards and senior point guard Lavrone Green (Teaneck, NJ/Teaneck) finished with eight points in 15 minutes of reserve time.
Junior All-American forward Sam Toney (Plainfield, NJ/Williamstown) entered the day needing 15 points to join the 1,000-point club but scored a season-low six, snapping a streak of 21 consecutive games with double digit scoring. He did finish with a team-high six rebounds, matching senior small forward James Julius (Linden, NJ/Linden) who had a +/- of 19.
Junior guard Ryan Kennedy (Maspeth, N.Y.) led the Rams with 16 points (4-9 3FG) and senior 6-foot-7 forward George Riefenstahl (Bayport, N.Y.) had a double-double of 13 points (5-8 FG). Senior guard Ali Mableton (Brentwood, N.Y.) finished with 12 points but committed eight turnovers.
Turnovers were a big part of NJCU's dominance as the Knights had a +15 margin in the game, forcing 29 while only committing 14. NJCU had a 31-13 advantage in points off turnovers and scored 23 fast-break points. NJCU's bench outscored the Rams, 47-23.
Down 13-7, a steal by Banks led to a three-point play by Worthy and after another FSC turnover, Banks grabbed an offensive rebound and hit a jumper. His triple off a Julius offensive board with 11:36 left put NJCU in front for good (15-13) with 11:36 to go in the opening half. Banks and Green combined for the next eight points—half coming in transition—before a Worthy steal and Pierre finish pushed the lead to 10 to cap the decisive early run.
FSC was able to whittle the deficit to 30-26 with 2:27 to go in the half but NJCU scored the final nine points of the half to claim a 13-point, 39-26 halftime cushion. Banks scored the first five, including a three with 1:42 to go to make it 35-26 and Pierre's putback of a fast break miss attempt capped it.
FSC drew within nine (49-40) five minutes into the second half before another 10-1 spurt—NJCU's third large run of the game—made it an 18-point, 59-41 game, with 10:48 to play. NJCU's largest lead was 22 (73-51) with 5:11 remaining. NJCU still led by 18 with four minutes left; FSC was able to shave off some of the margin in the final minutes when the Knights went deeper into its bench to close out the game.
- Series: 12th meeting. NJCU leads all-time, 10-2.
- NJCU ranked No. 16 by D3hoops.com.
- Denzel Banks (Newark, NJ/(East Orange Campus) scored in double figures for the third straight game and the third time in five games this year.
- Jeff Haddock scored in double figures for the eighth time in 17 appearances for NJCU. He has scored in double figures 27 times in 56 career games between NJCU and Rowan (2016-18).
- Shaquan Worthy (Trenton, NJ/Trenton Central) had five or more assists in a game for the 13th time in his career and dished eight or more assists for the sixth time. He has 194 career assists.
- NJCU heads to Wayne, N.J. on Wednesday, November 28 (8 p.m.) when it faces rival William Paterson University in New Jersey Athletic Conference action.
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