SCRANTON, Pa. – The University of Scranton men's basketball team (5-0) shot a staggering 60.9% (28-of-46) from the field and held off a late second half rally from Eastern in an 88-82 victory over the Eagles (7-2) on Wednesday night at the John Long Center in Scranton.
Eastern cut the lead to five at 79-74 with 1:46 to play before sophomore Will McLoughlin (Glen Rock, N.J./Glen Rock) answered with a dunk on the other end and the Royals preserved the win for the program's first 5-0 start since the 2018-19 campaign.
The 88 points are also a season-high for Scranton and the most in a game since a 95-60 victory over Goucher on Feb. 5, 2022.
The Royals were hot out of the gate and back-to-back threes from senior Stephen Braunstein* (Colts Neck, N.J./Christian Brothers Academy) and freshman EJ Matthews-Spratley (Cherry Hill, N.J./Cherry Hill East) opened up a 16-3 lead at the 11:42 mark of the first half. From there, the Eagles responded with a 20-10 run and cut the lead to three at 26-23 with 4:10 to play in the opening stanza. Graduate student Jackson Danzig* (Clarks Green, Pa./Abington Heights) buried a three of his own on the other end to stretch the advantage back to six and the Royals took a 38-31 lead into the locker room.
After Eastern hit a layup to cut the lead to 40-35, Danzig sank a three to ignite a 19-2 run for Scranton and Braunstein connected on a trio of three-pointers during the stretch for a 59-37 lead with 14:10 left. The Royals led by as many as 26 on two occasions before the Eagles battled back and used a 27-14 run to slice the lead back to single digits at 73-64 with just over four minutes remaining. Eastern cut the lead to four in the final minute of regulation, but Scranton sank 7-of-10 from the charity stripe in that same timeframe for the 88-82 victory.
Danzig led four Royals in double figures with a season-high 23 points on the strength of five three-pointers and was joined by Braunstein with 22 points on 7-of-11 shooting (5-of-5 3PT), McLoughlin with 19 points and junior Tahaj Parland (Neptune, N.J./Mater Dei) with 13 of his own on 4-of-5 shooting from the field.
Head coach Carl Danzig's team was 28-of-46 (60.9%) from the floor, 12-of-19 (63.2%) from beyond the arc and 20-of-27 (74.1%) from the free throw line.
Eastern shot 43.4% (33-of-76) from the field in the setback and was led by 19 points from Zubair Lee.
The Eagles held a slight 36-32 edge in the rebounding battle and McLoughlin led Scranton with 10 boards en route to his second double-double of the season.
Parland also added six assists on the night for the hosts, which marked the second-highest total of his career.
The Royals will host Goucher in the Landmark Conference opener for both teams on Saturday afternoon with tip-off set for 4 p.m.