SELINSGROVE, Pa. – The University of Scranton men's basketball team played possibly the best 20 minutes of its season thus far, and it resulted in a road victory over a nationally ranked opponent.
The Royals shot nearly 60 percent in the second half while clamping down defensively to turn a three-point halftime deficit into a 76-68 victory at 11th-ranked Susquehanna on Wednesday night in Houts Gymnasium. The win is their fourth in their last five trips to Selinsgrove.
Senior center John Vitkus (Mahopac, N.Y./Mahopac) had a monster game, finishing with 20 points while going 8-for-12 from the field and pulling down 13 rebounds. It was his seventh double-double of the season. Junior guard Kevin Doolan (Basking Ridge, N.J./Ridge) added 15 points and junior forward Brandon Feinberg (Avon, Conn./Avon/Suffield Academy) matched his career-high with 14 points.
Scranton (11-3, 3-0 Landmark) shot 59.3 percent (16-for-27) in the second half, including four of six from 3-point range. They also hit six of nine from the free throw line while turning the ball over just five times while forcing 11 turnovers by Susquehanna (12-2, 2-1 Landmark).
Susquehanna held a 37-34 lead at halftime and pushed the lead to five at 48-43 with 16:14 left. But the Royals went on a 19-4 run over the next seven minutes to build a 62-52 lead with a little more than nine minutes to play. Freshman guard Kyle DeVerna (Rockville Centre, N.Y./Kellenberg Memorial) drilled three 3-pointers in the run and four other Royals combined for nine points.
The Royals went on to push the lead as large as 14 with 3:27 to play and the River Hawks got no closer than the final margin the rest of the way.
Scranton finished the night shooting 50.9 percent (29-for-57), including 6-for-16 (37.5 percent) from 3-point range. DeVerna finished with those three 3-pointers for his nine points, and junior guard Chris McCullough (Harborfields, N.Y./Greenlawn) hit a pair from beyond the arc on his way to eight points.
The Royals committed just 10 turnovers, one off their season low. They made 12 of 20 (60 percent) from the free throw line and had four blocks, including two from Feinberg, who also had four rebounds and four assists. Feinberg's play was a key factor in the Scranton holding a 25-6 edge in points off the bench.
Susquehanna shot 38.6 percent (22-for-57) from the field, including just 6-for-23 (26.1 percent) from 3-point range. The River Hawks made 18 of 21 (85.7 percent) from the free throw line, but committed 17 turnovers, which led to 22 Scranton points.
Scranton will be back in action on Saturday, Jan. 14, when the Royals travel to Baltimore, Md. to take on Goucher in a Landmark Conference game at 4 p.m.