WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The University of Scranton men's basketball team battled to a 75-72 victory over host King's on Sunday afternoon to win the Cross County Challenge, capping a 2-0 weekend against local non-conference foes from Luzerne County while improving to 11-0 on the season.
Junior Kyle DeVerna (Rockville Centre, N.Y./Kellenberg Memorial) was named the Cross County Challenge MVP after scoring 18 points while freshman Jackson Danzig (Clarks Green, Pa./Abington Heights) also earned All-Tournament Team honors after record team-highs of 20 points, eight rebounds, and three steals while also tying for a team-lead with four assists.
Coming off of a 74-64 victory over Wilkes on Saturday, the 25th ranked Royals had their hands full with the upset-minded Monarchs (2-10) on Sunday. Trailing by five early in the contest, King's used a 17-2 surge to build a 22-12 lead midway through the opening half.
Scranton pulled back to within two points on a pair of occasions before the Monarchs pushed their advantage back to 10 points at 36-26 with one minute remaining in the period. The Royals countered with the final four points of the frame as freshman Ben Bosland (Colts Neck, N.J./Colts Neck) made a pair of free throws before DeVerna scored on a layup at the buzzer to cut the Royals' deficit to 36-30 at the break.
Scranton tied the score on three occasions in the early part of the second half before taking their first lead since the opening minutes of the contest when junior Matthew Mancuso (Bridgewater, N.J./Bridgewater-Raritan) scored in the paint at the 11:12 mark to give the Royals a 48-46 edge. Mancuso's go-ahead layup was part of a 14-0 run that saw the Royals flip a 46-40 deficit into a 54-46 lead as senior Jack Connelly (Ellington, Conn./Ellington) and Danzig capped the surge with back-to-back treys.
King's battled back to claim a 57-56 lead on a three-pointer of their own with 7:14 remaining and the two teams traded the lead three times over the two minutes. DeVerna put Scranton in front for good back knocking down a pair from the line with 5:23 remaining to give the Royals a 61-59 lead.
The Royals pushed their lead to seven points, 68-61, with 1:53 showing on the clock, but the Monarchs stayed in the contest with a trio of three-pointers in the final minutes while the visitors went 7-for-10 from the free throw line during that stretch. The hosts had a chance to force overtime after the Royals missed a pair from the line in the closing seconds, but the final three-point attempt would not go as the Royals notched the win.
Danzig matched the best output of his young career, netting his 20 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field while going 7-of-8 from the charity stripe. DeVerna went 5-of-9 from the floor and 8-of-10 from the line to net his 18 points.
Three other Royals recorded double-figure points as sophomore Logan Bailey (Scranton, Pa./Scranton Prep) scored 12 points and added four assists, Connelly added 11 points, and Mancuso netted 10 points while blocking a career-high six shots, tied for the 14th most in a game in Scranton history.
Sophomore Nolan Genasevich (Sugarloaf, Pa./Home School) also blocked a pair of shots for the Royals, who shot 44.2 percent from the field for the game, 27.8 percent from beyond the arc, and 66.7 percent from the free throw line.
The visitors also held a 39-37 edge in rebounding while holding King's to 38.5 percent shooting. The Monarchs were 36 percent from downtown and 68.4 percent from the line.
Scranton will host Gettysburg on Wednesday night in its final non-conference game of the regular season. Tipoff between the Royals and Bullets is set for 7 p.m. in the John Long Center.