LANCASTER, Pa. – The University of Scranton men's basketball team (7-0) held off a late Franklin & Marshall rally to remain unbeaten with a 67-58 victory over the Diplomats (5-3) in a non-conference clash on Wednesday night at the Mayser Center in Lancaster.
7-0 marks the best start for Scranton since going 12-0 to open the 2018-19 campaign.
Franklin & Marshall cut the lead to six with just over three minutes to play and to four at 59-55 with 1:03 left before sophomore Will McLoughlin (Glen Rock, N.J./Glen Rock) calmly sank a pair of free throws to stretch the lead back to six and the Royals were 6-of-7 from the charity stripe over the final minute plus to seal a seventh straight victory.
McLoughlin led all scorers with 20 points on the night to match his career-high and notch his second 20-point game of the season with the other coming in an 82-61 win at Stevens on Nov. 19.
The Royals raced out to an 11-2 lead out of the gate after McLoughlin hit a layup at the 13:51 mark of the first half. The Diplomats made just one of their first 18 attempts from the field and junior Tahaj Parland (Neptune, N.J./Mater Dei) hit a layup of his own for a 17-4 advantage with 8:07 to play in the opening stanza. Franklin & Marshall did manage to cut the lead back to 10 at 24-14, but the Royals closed the half on a 10-2 run over the final 3:17 and senior Stephen Braunstein* (Colts Neck, N.J./Christian Brothers Academy) sank a layup in the final seconds for a 34-18 lead at the break.
A three-point play by McLoughlin and a triple from sophomore Cameron Khoza (State College, Pa./Bishop Guilfoyle) extended the Scranton lead to 21 at 46-25 with 15:35 to play before the Diplomats slowly began to chip away at the deficit they faced. The Royals still led by 18 (52-34) following a McLoughlin jumper at the 9:40 mark, but the hosts then embarked on a 16-4 run that sliced things to six at 56-50 with 3:31 remaining. Franklin & Marshall then missed two threes on an ensuing possession and Braunstein buried a three on the other end for a 59-50 edge. As previously mentioned, the Diplomats cut the lead to 59-55 after a Jaylen Green three with 1:05 left and strong free throw shooting down the stretch from the Royals held off the late charge.
McLoughlin tied his career-high of 20 on 7-of-9 shooting and also added 11 rebounds and five assists. The double-double was his third of the year.
Braunstein and graduate student Jackson Danzig* (Clarks Green, Pa./Abington Heights) added 13 points apiece and Khoza came through with 11 off the bench on 4-of-7 shooting for his second straight double-digit scoring effort.
Josh Parra led the Diplomats with 17 points and 15 rebounds in the setback.
The Royals were 24-of-47 (51.1%) from the field and 6-of-13 (46.2%) from deep in the win to go along with a 13-of-16 (81.3%) performance at the free throw line. Head coach Carl Danzig's team also held the Diplomats to 33.8% (23-of-68) shooting from the floor and 20.6% (7-of-34) from long range.
Scranton returns home to host Penn State Harrisburg on Saturday afternoon with opening tip in the John Long Center slated for 3 p.m.