SCRANTON - Senior forward Matthew Mancuso (Bridgewater, N.J./Bridgewater-Raritan) of The University of Scranton men's basketball team was an absolute force inside with 22 points and 18 rebounds, but it wasn't enough, as visiting Drew rallied over the last few minutes in the second half to take a 73-70 win in a key Landmark Conference match-up in the John Long Center Wednesday night.
With the loss, Scranton (now 17-7 overall and 9-4 in the Landmark) fell out of a first place tie on top of the conference standings and are now in third place entering the final regular season game of the season on Saturday. Drew, meanwhile, moved to 19-5 and 10-3 in Landmark play with the win and remained in a first place tie at the top of the standings with Susquehanna.
From the start on Wednesday night, it was a battle between the Royals and Rangers, as Scranton opened an early 20-14 lead on Drew in the first half. Drew, however, was able to tie the game up later in the period, as the game was knotted up at 22-all entering the final three minutes of the opening frame.
Once the game was tied up, it remained that way through the rest of the first half, as a jumper by freshman Stephen Braunstein (Colts Neck, N.J./Christian Brothers Academy) at the end of the period tied the game up at 30-30 entering intermission.
Out of the break, Drew scored the first five points to take a 35-30 lead on the Royals, but the Drew lead did not last long, as Scranton punched back with a 14-0 spurt of their own to go up 44-35 on the Rangers with 15 minutes left. For the next five minutes, Scranton continued to keep the Rangers at arm's length, and with 10:36 left, had control of the contest up 57-46 on Drew.
But, Drew clawed their way back in the game over the next five minutes, as a startling 16-3 run over that time period put the Rangers up, 62-59, on Scranton with 4:58 to go in regulation. The Rangers eventually scored five more points, unanswered, to take a 67-59 lead on Scranton with 3:46 left.
Suddenly down eight, Scranton fought back, going on a 9-1 run that was punctuated by a made three by senior Kyle DeVerna (Rockville Centre, N.Y./Kellenberg Memorial) with 1:43 left that tied the game back up at 68-68. On Drew's next possession, however, guard Riley Collins made a wild three-pointer that gave the Rangers the lead right back at 71-68 with 1:23 left.
After both teams traded empty possessions, junior Logan Bailey (Scranton, Pa./Scranton Prep) was fouled going up for a lay-up with 23 seconds left and nailed both free throws to slice the Drew lead down to 71-70. On their next possessions, Drew's Collins was fouled and he made two big free throws of his own with 13 seconds left to put the Rangers back up three.
On their final possession of the game, DeVerna was able to get off a three at the buzzer, but it fell short, as Drew pulled out the come-from-behind road win over the Royals.
Overall, Mancuso recorded his 12th double-double of the year in a losing effort, finishing with a team-high 22 points, while pulling down 18 rebounds, his second-highest total in a game on the year. He also had five assists and blocked two shots in the victory, as well.
Elsewhere, Bailey and DeVerna finished with 12 points, apiece, with Bailey dishing out five assists while pulling down four rebounds.
Collins led all scorers in the contest for Drew, finishing with 25 points.
The University of Scranton men's basketball team returns to action on Saturday, hosting Goucher in their 2019-20 regular season home finale in the John Long Center. The contest, which is also the program's annual Senior Day, begins at 2 p.m.