Wildcats wrangle the 'Roos to keep pace

SHERMAN, TX – The Johnson & Wales men's basketball team kept pace in the SCAC standings with a 92-81 win at Austin College on Saturday night. The Wildcats' fourth straight win and eighth in their last nine games kept them a half-game behind first-place Texas Lutheran regular season title race.

For the second straight game, all five JWU Denver (17-6, 10-4) starters scored in double figures. Jontrell Herman paced the offense with 35 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the floor and was 12-of-13 from the line. The senior guard from Duck Hill, Miss., added seven rebounds, six assists and two steals.

Three Wildcats recorded a double-double as King Grant-Perry matched season highs with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Dakota Patton set a career high with 10 boards to go with 11 points while Andrew Romero III had his fifth double-double of the season with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Bailey Stephens added 14 points, four assists and a career-high three blocks.

The senior-laden Wildcats have just two games left in the season as they chase a coveted conference title in their first season in the SCAC.

"As seniors we're all buckling down. We realize this is the end of the line for our collegiate basketball experience," Herman said. "We all want to make sure we leave our mark at Johnson & Wales and leave everything we have on the floor."

With the victory, the 2018-19 Wildcats matched the '09-10 JWU squad for the second-most wins in program history with 17, trailing only the '16-17 team that won 18 games.

Looking for the season sweep over Austin, JWU jumped out to a quick 18-6 lead six minutes in before the 'Roos seized momentum and built a 46-39 halftime lead. A three-point play by Grant-Perry at the 16:14 mark of the second half regained the lead for the Wildcats, who then opened up a 14-point cushion (68-54) with 8:23 to play on a 3 by Romero III.

JWU never trailed the rest of the way, although the SCAC conference matchup did get interesting late as the 'Roos closed within three in the final minute. Four straight points by Herman, fueled by a steal by Stephens, allowed the Wildcats to put the game away. Coach Quintin Grogan's team plays its final road game of the season Saturday at Centenary.