JWU Denver beats Dallas to stay in SCAC title hunt

Coach Quintin Grogan
Coach Quintin Grogan

DALLAS – Don't count the Wildcats out of the regular season conference title race just yet.

The Johnson & Wales University men's basketball team earned a big road win over Dallas on Saturday, remaining in the hunt for the SCAC regular season crown with a 78-68 victory over the Crusaders.

JWU Denver improved to 14-6 overall -- the most wins overall in the SCAC -- and 7-4 in conference play, tied for the most wins in league play with leaders Texas Lutheran and Southwestern, but two games back in the loss column.

Despite a limited rotation because of injuries, the Wildcats put together one of their most complete efforts of the season. Coach Quintin Grogan's team took an 11-point lead at halftime, withstood a run by Dallas in the second half, and then pulled away down the stretch.

"The effort was there from everybody right from the start," said senior guard Dakota Patton, who scored a career-high 17 points. "This was probably one of our best games all season in terms of everyone giving it everything they had every possession."

Patton (Loveland, Colo.) said the team had a little extra juice after watching the JWU women's team earn a victory to start off the doubleheader.

"Watching the girls win gave us a huge boost of energy," he said. "We said, 'Let's make sure we both beat of them at their place.'"

After becoming the program's all-time leading rebounder last game, senior guard Andrew Romero III paced the Wildcats with 27 points and 10 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season. Jontrell Herman added 11 points and six rebounds while Bailey Stephens finished with 10 points and six boards.

Player of the game: Andrew Romero III once again played all 40 minutes and showed no signs of exhaustion, shooting an efficient 66.7 percent from the floor (10-of-15).

Stat of the game: The Wildcats corralled 18 offensive rebounds, a season-high that led to 16 second-chance points.

Up next: The Wildcats return home to host Texas Lutheran for a White Out on Friday, Feb. 1, followed by a matchup against Southwestern on Saturday. Both games next weekend are part of the SCAC's Change for the Better Campaign, a league-wide initiative to see which school can raise the most money for charity. Wildcat fans are encouraged to bring spare change to next weekend's games Feb. 1-2. All money raised will be donated to Special Olympics of Colorado.