January 21, 2009
BRYANT COMEBACK FALLS SHORT; DOWNED BY HIGHLANDERS, 61-51, WEDNESDAY NIGHT
NEWARK, N.J. - Jheryl Wilson scored a game-high 26 points as the New Jersey Tech Highlanders knocked off the Bulldogs, 61-51, in Newark on Wednesday night. Bryant tried to climb out of a deep first half hole but fell short in its second half comeback despite a season-high 21 points from senior guard Pete Lambert (Cumberland, R.I. / Cumberland).
The Bulldogs were held to their second lowest first half output of the season thanks to some physical Highlander defense, holding Bryant to just 26.1 percent from the field and six field goals, as they went into halftime trailing NJIT, 31-15, at the break.
Wilson, who came into the game averaging 9.7 points per game and shooting 21.1 percent from the outside, had 20 of the Highlanders' 31 first half points, knocking down four-of-five from three point land to lead all scorers.
Bryant grabbed an early 8-7 lead after a driving lay-up by Andrew Lyell (Portsmouth, R.I. / Portsmouth) with 16:44 left in the half, but NJIT responded with a 10-2 run over the next six and a half minutes to claim a 17-10 lead with under nine minutes left.
Nick Pontes (New Bedford, Mass. / New Bedford) scored his first two with 8:59 left cutting the Highlander lead to five, but Bryant would then go on a 7:38 scoreless drought, allowing NJIT to take a 26-12 advantage, before Lambert hit his third three of the half. Lambert paced the Bulldogs with nine in the half, all coming on treys. The senior went on to hit three more in the second half, finishing with six for the game.
The referees let both sides play in the first half, as the Highlanders were whistled for just four fouls while Bryant was called for eight. NJIT took the only shots from the charity stripe in the frame, both coming with .01 seconds remaining.
The Bulldog offense picked it up to start the second half, pulling to within single digits after a lay-in from Ryan McLean (Plymouth, Mass. / Plymouth North) cut the deficit to 38-29 with 8:15 remaining in the game.
Wilson came up big once again, scoring five straight points on the next two possessions extending the Highlander lead back to 14 at the 7:29 mark.
Bryant then buckled down on the defensive end, holding NJIT to 31percent shooting in the half to climb back into the game. On the other side, the Bulldogs shot 41.7 percent from the floor while going to the line 18 times in the frame.
A 12-5 run from the 7:29 mark until the media timeout with 3:18 remaining in the game brought Bryant to within seven. Cecil Gresham (Bloomfield, Conn. / MCI) hit six free throws during the stretch to go along with six points from Pontes. Gresham finished with 10.
The Bulldogs kept the score at seven until Isaiah Wilkerson scored four straight points, sandwiched between a big defensive help the Highlanders seal the win, grabbing an 11 point lead with just 1:40 left.
NJIT got the job done from the free throw stripe in the second half, connecting on 11-14 including 8-10 in the final four minutes.
Lambert hit a late three to bring Bryant within seven with 30 seconds left, but it was too little too late as the Bulldogs fell by 10 in Newark.
Bryant will look to bounce back as they return to the Chace Center to battle the Blackbirds of Long Island University on Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. The Blackbirds beat the Bulldogs back on January 7 in Brooklyn, New York by a final of 76-61.