Mack lifts Rutgers past St. Francis (NY) 76-73
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) Rutgers isn't looking at it as blowing a 13-point halftime lead.
Instead, the Scarlet Knights are seeing their 76-73 win over St. Francis-Brooklyn in the preliminary round of the Barclay's Classic on Sunday as a stepping-stone.
''Games like that - usually people don't think that we pull those out,'' senior forward Kadeem Jack said. ''And I think that was a big step for us just for morale and stuff like that.''
Myles Mack scored 25 points and had eight steals and hit the tie-breaking free throws with 26 seconds left.
Kevin Douglas had given St. Francis (0-3), which trailed 45-32 at the half, the lead on a layup with 1:09 to play. Jack tied it for Rutgers (2-1) on a jumper at 46 seconds.
Antonio Jennifer missed a shot with 26 seconds left and immediately fouled Mack, who had grabbed the rebound.
Brent Jones missed a 3 with 2 seconds left for St. Francis-Brooklyn before Junior Etou added one last free throw for Rutgers.
''No (the plan was not to attempt a three-pointer),'' St. Francis-Brooklyn coach Glenn Braicia said of the final possession. ''The clock was getting late so we went to go to a ball screen. We tried some other stuff before that, but it didn't work. So we went to the ball screen. I thought he had an OK look, not a great look. They defended it.''
Jack added 13 points and Etou had 12 for the Scarlet Knights.
Douglas led the Terriers with 15 points, Tyreek Jewell had 11 and Jones and Jenifer split 22.
D.J. Foreman hit a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer to give Rutgers the 13-point lead but the Terriers scored the first six points of the second half to get back into the game.
''We didn't play very well in the first half, but part of that is because of Rutgers' size, athleticism and some of the stuff that they do,'' Braicia said. ''I thought it bothered us early in the way they played the ball screens. We just didn't have the energy; we usually don't play like that. They did a good job and caused some of that. But our guys don't give up and came out and played hard in the second half.''
Jenifer hit a 3-pointer off a pass from Jones to make it 56-56 at the 10 minute mark. Freshman Gunnar Olaffson hit a 3-pointer to give St. Francis-Brooklyn its first lead of the game at 59-58 with 9:09 left.
From there, Rutgers and St. Francis would trade punches, with seven lead changes and three ties in the final nine minutes.
''There were some things that were good for us that probably won't show up in the box score,'' Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan said. ''We played pretty good defense. We stuck together even though they made the run, got the lead, we didn't panic, we didn't point fingers, we didn't self-destruct, so that's a credit to us.''
Rutgers: Kadeem Jack made his first start of the season after missing the first two games with a sprained right thumb.Rutgers improved to 4-0 all-time against St. Francis-Brooklyn.
St. Francis-Brooklyn: Rutgers is the only team from the power five conferences that St. Francis is scheduled to play this year.
STEALING THE SHOW
Mack's eight steals are the second most in a game in Rutgers history behind Mike Dabney (vs. Navy and Lafayette in 1976) and Jordan's (vs. Penn State in 1974), who had nine steals.
COINFLIP FROM 3
Rutgers shot 50 percent from three-point range, going 8-of-16. The Scarlet Knights were 8-of-30 from beyond the arc in their first two games.
Rutgers: Hosts St. Peter's on Tuesday.
St. Francis: At La Salle on Tuesday.