IRVING, Texas – The University of Dallas men's basketball team dropped a 78-68 final on Saturday afternoon to Johnson & Wales University (CO). The Crusaders battled to a six-point difference (68-74) with under a minute remaining after down as many as 17 about three minutes prior. However, the Wildcats (14-6, 7-4 SCAC) took advantage of 18 turnovers and scored a 26-5 edge on the miscues over Dallas.
The Crusaders (7-11, 5-5 SCAC) got their first lead with three-pointer by Dustin Mathis (Fort Worth, Texas) to make it 5-2. He followed with a jumper to extend the lead to three, but JWU rattled off eight unanswered points to spark a crucial 17-2 scoring run that opened a 21-9 score through the midway part of the first half.
A jumper by Rashid Coombs (Houston, Texas) broke a 9-0 surge, but the Wildcats were hot hitting five straight three-pointers from the field that was part of their 7-for-13 effort in the half. Johnson & Wales shot a lower percentage from the floor (41.4 percent to 40 percent) that frame, but the Crusaders committed half of their 18 turnovers by the break and allowed 14 points that followed on them.
Johnson & Wales notched its largest lead of the game at 18 (40-22) after outscoring UD 36-15 for nearly nine minutes.
John Russell (Bossier City, La.) scored a layup to start a string of nine points in a row that included three-pointers by Joshua Nunn (St. Louis, Mo.) and Michael Wambsganss (Denver, Colo.). That cut the margin in half with 1:09 until halftime, which the Wildcats ended up leading 44-33.
The road team pulled out to a 15-point lead through the first four minutes of the next half, as Dallas didn't notch a point until a layup by Wambsganss. The Crusaders closed the score to 50-41 with 12:47 left on a layup by Mathis.
Down 59-49 with nine minutes to go, the Crusaders received a trifecta from Nunn and three-point play by Russell to cut the gap to four.
That was as close as the Wildcats allowed things after countering with 11 straight points that was capped by a Dakota Patton triple.
Dallas battled down the stretch to make it a six-point game on two free throws by Nunn (74-68) with 40 ticks left. Bailey Stephens would get the remaining four free throws on two trips at the line to finish the final score.
Nunn would go for a career-high 22 points with the help of a perfect 10-for-10 at the charity stripe. This is the second time this season the sophomore guard has made double-digit numbers for free throws. Mathis was the other UD player in double figures with 19 points to match a personal-best from earlier this year at home against Trinity University (Jan. 4). He did make a career-high eight field goals, with a 3-for-5 effort from distance.
Ben Norton (Louisville, Ky.) notched a career-best 11 rebounds to lead all players. 10 of them occurred on the offensive glass. Wambsganss hauled down eight boards to go with seven points. The Crusaders secured a 42-40 advantage on the boards. Both teams were active on the offensive rebounds with JWU holding a 19-18 lead.
The Crusaders have now eclipsed 40 rebounds in three of the last five outings, and only have one other moment prior to that stretch when were home against Austin College. All five instances of reaching 40 or greater rebounds have been at home.
Dallas shot 38.3 percent from the field, 26.9 percent (7-26) from three, and 15-for-19 (78.9 percent) at the line. The Wildcats were slightly better at 39.4 percent overall and had one more trifecta. The Crusaders held a 21-16 edge on second chance points, while both sides were even at 30 for points in the paint. The guests outscored UD on the fastbreak 12-0.
JWU only turned the ball over eight times and swiped 12 steals with Stephens leading the squad with four. Andrew Romero III went 10-for-15 on the floor to finish with 27 points. He claimed a double-double on 10 rebounds, and added four assists and two steals. Patton contributed 17 points, while Jontrell Herman and Stephens respectively tossed in 11 and 10. Herman and Romero III dished four assists apiece, while King Grant-Perry got three dimes.
The setback ends a four-game home winning streak for the Crusaders, who have dropped three of their last four. They also split the regular season series with Johnson & Wales, with the road team winning each matchup.
Dallas takes a break from the home site on Tuesday, January 29, with an 8 p.m. road tilt at Austin College. After closing the month up there, UD returns for its final four home games of the regular season over the next two weeks.