COLORADO SPRINGS – The first-ever SCAC conference game for the Johnson & Wales men's basketball team was a debut to remember.
In a matchup of the top two teams in the league entering the night, the Wildcats bounced back from their first and only loss of the season to earn an 84-60 road win at Colorado College on Tuesday night at Reid Arena.
Coach Quintin Grogran's team used a familiar formula, relying on its pressure defense to set the tone and create easy offense. The Wildcats (6-1, 1-0) forced the Tigers (4-4, 0-1) into 26 turnovers, converting those possessions into 36 points.
JWU totaled a season-high 19 steals and finished with 32 fastbreak points thanks to their full-court pressure defense.
"We're a good team, and sometimes we don't come out with the energy we need to. But when we do, we can put people away," said Bailey Stephens, who had eight points, two assists and one steal. "Everything is defense with us. The people coming off the bench really did well."
Jontrell Herman led the defensive attack with eight steals while King Grant-Perry and Andrew Romero III had four swipes each. Herman (Duck Hill, Miss.) also led all scorers with 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting to go with a game-high 11 rebounds, two assists and two blocks.
Jordan Miles had 18 points, five boards and four blocks while Grant-Perry (Cleveland, Ohio) added six points and seven rebounds. Romero III (Northglenn, Colo.) filled up the stat sheet once again with 15 points, five rebounds and six assists.
Taka Hall matched his season high with 10 points off the bench, making 4-of-6 from the field in 18 minutes.
The Wildcats were able to play aggressive defense without fouling as the Tigers attempted just four free throws all night, making two of them.
JWU started slow and fell behind 11-2 five minutes in, but a 3-pointer by Herman at the 8:23 mark of the first half erased the deficit. A layup by Gavin Spinks a few possessions later gave the Wildcats the lead for good.
Johnson & Wales ended the first half on 23-10 run over the final eight minutes to take a 40-27 lead at the break. The lead grew to over 20 on a jumper by Grant-Perry seven minutes into the second half before ballooning up to 31 following a 13-2 run that was capped off with a layup by Miles.
In the midst of its busiest stretch of the season that includes six games in eight days, the Wildcats will now head to southern California for three straight games: Thursday at Caltech, Friday at Chapman and Sunday at Whittier.