PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Rutgers guard Jerome Seagears scored 15 points and dished out nine assists and the host Scarlet Knights’ defense held Canisius to 23 second-half points as Rutgers scored a 66-51 win over Canisius in the opening round of the 2013 NIT Season Tip Off in The RAC Monday night. Rutgers (3-1) advances to play Drexel on Tuesday night in the second round of the NIT Season Tip Off, while the Golden Griffins (1-3) will play Elon in the consolation bracket Tuesday at 5 p.m.
Four Rutgers players had double-figures in the scoring column, led by Seagears’ team-high 15 points. Redshirt-junior forward Kadeem Jack had 13 points and 11 rebounds, while fellow forward Wally Judge posted 11 points and 12 boards. D’Von Campbell came off the bench to chip in 10 points and four rebounds for Rutgers, which ended the night with a 50-37 advantage on the glass.
For Canisius, senior Billy Baron scored a game-high 17 points to go with five rebounds. Seniors Jordan Heath, Chris Manhertz and Chris Perez all had seven points apiece in the losing effort for Canisius, with Perez pulling down a team-high six boards. As a team, Canisius shot just 24.3 percent (9-for-37) from the field in the game’s final 20 minutes and ended up shooting 33.3 percent from the floor for the game.
“I give Rutgers a lot of credit, they came out in the second half, made some adjustments and made shots while we did not,” Canisius head coach Jim Baron said. “We had plenty of good looks, we just didn’t take advantage of them. We need to make shots when we get the chance. You can’t let a long, athletic team like that hang around because they’re eventually going to get on a run, and they did there late in the second half.”
Canisius led the game 28-26 at the half and the opening moments of the second half went back-and-forth before the Scarlet Knights used an 8-0 run over the span of 2:14 to take a six-point lead at 39-33 with 14:39 left in the game. Freshman Zach Lewis hit a 3-pointer from the corner to cut Rutgers’ lead in half, but a bucket from Judge and a 3-pointer by Campbell stretch the home team’s cushion back to eight points at 44-36 with 11:03 left to play.
Rutgers’ lead hovered around six points for the better part of the game’s next two-plus minutes before Campbell hit another 3-pointer, this time with 6:32 left in the game, to make it a nine-point contest at 51-42. Canisius answered with a lay-up from junior Jeremiah Williams and a 3-pointer from Jordan Heath to make the score 51-47 in favor of Rutgers, but the Scarlet Knights put the game away with a 12-0 run over the next 3:52, capped by a fast-break dunk by J.J. Moore and a pair of free-throws by Seagears that made the score 63-47 in favor of the home team with less than 90 seconds to play.
Rutgers shot 36.5 percent from the field, 23.1 percent from 3-point range and 63.6 percent from the free-throw line in the win, while holding a 24-22 advantage on points scored in the paint. Canisius ended the night after shooting 30 percent from 3-point land and 55.6 percent from the charity stripe.
Canisius will play Elon, who lost to Drexel in the night’s first game, on Tuesday at 5 p.m., in The RAC. The game can be heard live on AM-1400 WWWS in Buffalo and the Golden Griffin Broadcast Network. Canisius and Elon met in last year’s CIT first round game in Buffalo, with the Griffs earning a 69-53 victory.Game Notes: This was the first meeting between Canisius and Rutgers… This marks Canisius’ second appearance in the NIT Season Tip Off, and the Griffs are now 1-2 all-time… Canisius was credited with five assists in the loss, the fewest for the team since Jan. 1, 2012 at Fairfield… Baron now has scored in double figures in 45 career games, counting his time at Rhode Island… Williams set new career highs with his four points and two assists in 13 minutes of action… Junior Josiah Heath had five rebounds in the loss, all of them off the defensive glass… Jordan Heath now has two blocks in each of the Griffs’ first three games this season.