PROVIDENCE, RI – After a tough to start the GNAC portion of its schedule, the Johnson & Wales University men's basketball team appears to have found a winning formula. The Wildcats completed the first round of conference play with a 77-51 win over Suffolk on Wednesday for the team's sixth win in a row.
Suffolk: 4-14, 3-8 GNAC
Johnson & Wales: 8-8, 8-2 GNAC
Kevin Querusio hit a jumper at the 8:25 mark of the first half to pull the Rams within four. Over the next five minutes, the Wildcats went on a 15-0 run that was capped by a two Jarell Lawson (Providence, RI) free throws to extend JWU's lead to 31-12. Suffolk got the lead down to 11 with 12:47 to play on an Austin Prevost jumper, but JWU responded by pushing the lead to 20 for the first time just three minutes later on a pair of Anthony Jernigan (East Hartford, Conn.) free throws.
Leading all scorers was Jernigan with 23 points to go along with seven assists and four steals. He remains the NCAA leader at 3.7 steals per game. The senior point guard is averaging 25.7 points per game in his last seven contests.
Four Wildcats reached double figures with Lawson next at 16 points and five rebounds. Matt Madoian (North Kingstown, RI) just missed a double-double with 10 points and eight rebounds. Israel Johnson (Southampton, NY) had 11 points off the bench and Michael Kiser (Pike Road, Ala.) went for eight points and eight rebounds.
George Grillakis was the only Suffolk player to reach double figures with 10 points to go along with eight rebounds. Prevost was next with nine points and Michael Hagopian added eight. The Rams struggled from the free throw line, going 8-14 (57.1 percent).
JWU's tenacious defense forced the Rams into 27 turnovers, which the Wildcats turned into 27 points. Johnson & Wales was solid behind the arc and at the free throw lane. JWU hit seven three pointers and was a perfect 12-12 at the charity stripe. It's the first time since February 23, 2016, against St. Joseph's (ME) that JWU shot 100 percent from the free throw line when taking more than 10 attempts.
Johnson & Wales will play again on Saturday when it hosts Mount Ida for a 4:30 p.m. tip.