The University of Scranton men's basketball team remained undefeated in the 2018-19 season with an 82-79 non-conference victory over The College of New Jersey on Thursday in the John Long Center, overcoming a 19-point first half deficit to improve to 9-0 on the season.
Sophomore Logan Bailey (Scranton, Pa./Scranton Prep) scored a career and game-high 22 points, 14 of which came in the second half, and netted the final four points of the contest, going 4-for-4 from the free throw line in the final 33 seconds to flip a 79-78 deficit into a three-point victory for the Royals.
Playing its final home game of the calendar year, Scranton faced its biggest character test of the season as TCNJ (5-5) scored the first 16 points of the contest and stretching its lead to 27-8 with 12:15 remaining in the opening half.
Faced with the largest deficit of the season, the Royals found their footing and stormed back with a 24-4 surge over the next seven minutes, taking a 32-31 lead on a layup by freshman Jackson Danzig (Clarks Green, Pa./Abington Heights) with five and a half minutes remaining in the frame.
Danzig, who scored 14 points and made four three-pointers during the host's run, finished the opening 20 minutes of play with 19 points, but the Lions reclaimed the lead on their next possession after his go-ahead bucket and would lead by as many as five points down the stretch before taking a 44-43 lead into halftime.
Senior Jack Connelly (Ellington, Conn./Ellington) briefly gave Scranton a one-point lead early in the second half on a layup, but TCNJ countered with a 10-3 run to hold a 64-56 advantage with 10:46 left in regulation.
With the Lions holding a 71-66 edge with just over five minutes remaining, sophomore Nolan Genasevich (Sugarloaf, Pa./Home School) reeled off seven straight points, sandwiching a pair of three-pointers around a 1-of-2 effort at the free throw line, to give Scranton a 73-72 edge at the 5:45 mark.
The two teams traded the lead five times over the next four and a half minutes with the Lions claiming a 79-78 edge on a pair of free throws with 1:27 remaining.
Following misses at both ends, Bailey was fouled with 33 seconds remaining and made both of his attempts from the line to give Scranton an 80-79 edge.
Danzig picked up a huge block and defensive rebound on the Lions' next possession and found Bailey on an outlet pass. Bailey was again fouled, and again calmly sank a pair of free throws to give Scranton a three-point lead with 11 seconds remaining.
TCNJ turned the ball over on its ensuing opportunity and were forced to foul again. The Royals missed both their attempts from the line with 1.6 seconds remaining, but forced the Lions into another turnover to prevent the visitors a look at a potential tying basket.
Bailey and Danzig, who finished with 19 points, were joined in double-figures by freshman Jack Brockett (Shamong, N.J./Seneca), who totaled 12 points, and junior Kyle DeVerna (Rockville Centre, N.Y./Kellenberg Memorial), who netted 11 points while matching a career-high with seven assists and pulling down six rebounds, which tied with Danzig for the team-lead.
For the second-straight game, Genasevich set a new career-high with nine points, all of which came in the second half, going 3-for-4 from the floor with a pair of three-pointers and one on free throw made.
Danzig also blocked a pair of shots and tied with Bailey and junior Matthew Mancuso (Bridgewater, N.J./Bridgewater-Raritan) with two steals apiece. Bailey added four assists two his career-best scoring output while Danzig and Mancuso had a pair of helpers each.
For the game, Scranton shot 42.6 percent from the field including a 42.9 percent clip from beyond the arc. The Royals, who committed a season-low 11 turnovers, went 75 percent from the free throw line while forcing TCNJ into 17 turnovers.
The hosts also held a narrow advantage in rebounding, 36-35 while extending its longest season-opening win streak in 28 years.
Scranton returns to action on Saturday, December 29 when they take on Wilkes at King's College in the first day of the Cross County Challenge. Opening tipoff between the Royals and Colonels is set for 1 p.m. in Wilkes-Barre.