Second-half run sparks Wildcats' win over Bulldogs

Jaerron Hunter (Photo: Tim Clark)
Jaerron Hunter (Photo: Tim Clark)

DENVER - A 10-0 run midway through the second half propelled the Johnson & Wales University men's basketball team to a thrilling 59-58 win over visiting Texas Lutheran University on Friday night at the Wildcat Center. 

Down seven at the break and 40-36 early in the second half, the Wildcats ripped off 10 straight points to erase the deficit and claim their first SCAC conference victory of the season, improving to 2-7 overall and 1-1 in league play. 

Freshman Kaleb Atherley, who led JWU Denver with 15 points, sparked the run with a made jumper at the 14:17 mark of the second frame to pull the Wildcats within two. On the ensuing possession, a steal and layup by freshman Andray Thomas Jr. then tied the game at 40-all. Consecutive 3-pointers by sophomore Charles Young and freshman Kade Glover capped the 10- spurt, putting the hosts up six, 46-40, with 10:53 to play. 

The Bulldogs (4-5, 1-1) rallied to tie it at 56-all with 3 minutes to play, but the Wildcats were able to regain the lead for good on a free throw by Thomas at the 2:23 mark. 

TLU had the final possession with a chance to win it, but Sebastian Andrade missed two short jumpers in the paint in the final seconds to allow JWU to prevail. 

"We just had to fight through, because we were down at halftime," Atherley said. "It was just good communication. We just had to communicate, talk, keep moving on offense and get the defense mixed up. We just had to play strong defense, because if we get stops, we get more opportunities to score."

Young joined Atherley in double figures with 14 points, including a 4-for-5 effort from behind the arc. The Wildcats shot lights out from deep, making a season-high 11 three-balls on 21 attempts. Freshman Brandon Romero had three of those 3s on six attempts while freshmen Ricky Poole, Mason Beauman, Jaerron Hunter and Glover made one each. 

Beauman led JWU with six rebounds while Young and Thomas had five each. Young added a season-high six assists. 

The Wildcats now have some time off for the holidays before heading on the road to play at St. Thomas on Sunday, Dec. 29 and at Centenary on Monday, Jan. 30.