PROVIDENCE, RI – A big second half push on both ends of the court was the difference for the 14th-ranked Johnson & Wales University men's basketball team against Lasell College. The Wildcats extended their winning streak to 21 games by downing the Lasers, 93-60, on Tuesday.
Lasell: 16-6, 13-2 GNAC
Johnson & Wales: 21-1, 15-0 GNAC
The Wildcats' pressure defense is like Novocain. Just give it time and it will work. After the two teams were tied 39-39 at the half, JWU put the clamps on in the final 20 minutes to pick up the victory. The Lasers shot 60 percent (12-20) in the first half, but were limited to 25 percent (6-24) in the second as they were outscored 54-21.
For the first time since the GNAC opener at Mount Ida on December 1, the Wildcats did not go into the half with the lead. A Robert Lewis (Providence, RI) free throw with 31 second remaining tied the game. Lasell's Pat Marchard hit a jumper at the 17:03 mark of the second half to pull the Lasers within two, 47-45, but from there the Wildcats closed the game with a 46-15 run.
With the victory, the Wildcats tied the 2003-04 and 2010-11 teams for the third-most wins in school history at 21. Last year's team collected 22 wins and the 2013-14 edition won a school-record 23 contests on its way to the ECAC New England Championship.
Leading all players with 32 points was senior guard Quarry Greenaway (Westchester, NY). He pulled in 12 rebounds for his second double-double in a row and ninth of the season. Greenaway has 64 points in the two meetings against the Lasers this year. Despite facing a taller Lasell line-up, Johnson & Wales out-rebounded the visitors, 40-21, and had a 46-26 margin for points in the paints.
On Tuesday Greenaway picked up regional and national honors. He was named ECAC Division III Northeast Region Player of the Week and was selected for the D3hoops.com National Team of the Week.
Four Wildcats reached double figures as Tom Garrick (Seekonk, Mass.) was right behind Greenaway with 28 points, including 17 in the second half. Anthony Jernigan (East Hartford, Conn.) was next with 12 points and Jarell Lawson (Providence, RI) came off the bench to score 11.
The national leader in scoring margin at 28.7 points per game, the Wildcats have won three of their last four games by at least 30 points. Against conference opponents, JWU is outscoring teams by 35.4 points per game.
"We got away from who we are in the first half. We're going to get wherever we're going with our defense and that's what we talked about in the locker room. We told them to play their 'A' game on defense and the offense would take care of itself and it did. Our defense in the second half was the difference. That's clearly our identity."
-JWU Head Coach Jamie Benton
Johnson & Wales goes on the road to take on Albertus Magnus on Saturday at 1 p.m. A Wildcats' victory would give them their first GNAC regular season title since 2004.