SCRANTON - Senior Matthew Mancuso (Bridgewater, N.J./Bridgewater-Raritan) scored a game-high 23 points for The University of Scranton men's basketball team, but it wasn't enough, as visiting William Paterson opened a big second-half lead, then held off a late comeback attempt by the Royals to take the 2019 Hilton Scranton Invitational with a 75-69 victory.
In the opening frame of the contest, the game was tight between the teams, as the visiting Pioneers (3-0) held a slim 23-20 lead with five minutes left. But here, WPU began a run to end the half that created separation between themselves and the Royals, as a 11-0 spurt gave the Pioneers a 34-20 lead with two minutes left in the half.
Scranton (2-1) was able to cut the deficit to 10 (34-24) before the half, but that was it, as William Paterson went into the locker room up double-digits on the Royals.
For most of the second half, William Paterson continued to pad their lead, as the closest Scranton came to the lead early was five points (41-36). But, every time Scranton would get close to the Pioneers' lead, they would make a shot to extinguish the threat.
Up 69-56 with 2:08 left in regulation, it appeared William Paterson would coast to a non-conference win, but the Royals would not go out without a fight, as a quick 11-1 run put Scranton within three points (70-67) with 38 seconds left after senior Kyle DeVerna (Rockville Centre, N.Y./Kellenberg Memorial) made a pair of free throws.
But, on the Pioneers' next possession, Scranton committed a foul, which led to a pair of made WPU free throws that made it a 72-67 game with 33 seconds left. Scranton could not score on their next trip down the floor, and the Pioneers proceed to put the game away with another free throw, as the 73-67 edge was too much for the Royals to come back from with only seconds left on the game clock.
In the defeat, Mancuso had a big game to earn All-Hilton Scranton Invitational honors, as his 23 points came on seven made shots and a 9-of-11 performance from the free throw line. He also pulled down nine rebounds and had two assists, steals, and blocks, respectively.
Elsewhere, junior Logan Bailey (Scranton, Pa./Scranton Prep) finished the game with 16 points, while DeVerna finished with 15 points, four rebounds, and four steals. Sophomore Jackson Danzig (Clarks Green, Pa./Abington Heights) rounded out the double-digit scorers with 10 points and six rebounds.
For William Paterson, Sean Smith led the way with 17 points, as she was named the MVP of the 2019 Hilton Scranton Invitational.
The University of Scranton men's basketball team returns to action on Wednesday evening, as they travel to Wilkes for their first road game of the 2019-20 season. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.