SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Senior point guard Shane McLaughlin set a new program Division I record with 14 assists while sophomore Gus Riley scored a career- and game-high 18 points as the Bryant University men’s basketball team topped Prairie View A&M, 71-58, at home to advance to the 2K Classic Smithfield Subregional Championship Game.
Riley’s career best came off 8-of-12 shooting from the floor and a 2-for-5 mark from beyond the arc and paced four Bulldogs (2-1) to finish in double figures. Junior forward Dan Garvin (Bethel, Conn.) and sophomore guard Bosko Kostur (Melbourne, Australia) each chipped in 12 points, with the former roping in a team-leading nine boards. Sophomore guard Hunter Ware (Powder Springs, Ga.) added 10 points of his own.
The Panthers (0-3) were paced by Admassu Williams’s double-double off 16 points and a game-high 11 rebounds, while Tevin Bellinger added 15 more. Jayrn Johnson finished the day with nine points, five boards, two blocks and three steals.
A deep three from rookie guard Nisre Zouzoua (Brockton, Mass.) gave the Bulldogs the early 14-6 lead through the first five minutes of Friday’s contest, and a 14-0 run kicked off by a Kostur dunk with 11:44 to play moved the margin to 30-11 with six minutes to play in the opening frame.
A midrange jumper from Riley capped off the stretch that would eat up 6:33 of the clock, as the Black and Gold held the Panthers off the board for nearly eight full minutes. The teams would stay fairly even through the remainder of the half, keeping Bryant out in front by more than double, 43-20, at the intermission.
McLaughlin fueled the opening 20 minutes with strong point guard play and on-point passing, finishing the frame already setting a new season high with nine assists. Riley would go 6-for-8 from the floor with a big triple in the final minute for 13 first-half points, as the Bulldogs shot a scorching 64 percent in the stanza.
Ware opened the second with a deep trey for his 10th point of the night, and Riley would stay hot as the clocked ticked below 18 with a three for a 51-22 advantage.
But the Bryant shooting would quickly cool down, and a seven-point Prairie View run would cut the margin to 51-29. The spurt would be part of a larger 20-4 Panther stretch over seven minutes that saw the Bulldogs turn the ball over five times and go 2-for-10 from the floor.
But home side wouldn’t give up its lead completely, maintaining a 13-point, 55-42 advantage nine minutes into the second. And while the Bulldogs would be outscored, 38-28, in the frame and shoot only 42.9 percent from the field, it would be enough to advance to Saturday’s 2K Classic Smithfield Subregional Championship Game with a 71-58 victory.
Prairie View shot 43.8 percent in the second session after just a 27.6 percent clip in the opening 20 minutes. The Panthers finished the game at 36.1 percent from the floor and just 16.7 percent (3-18) from 3-point land. The Bulldogs finished the night 9-for-22 from beyond the arc (40.9 percent), shooting 52.8 percent on the contest.
The Bulldogs will now take on Siena, 76-62 winner over Radford in Friday’s first contest, at the Chace Athletic Center Saturday at 7:00 p.m. for the Smithfield Subregional title. Radford and Prairie View A&M will face off in the consolation game at 4 p.m. Both games can be seen free-of-charge on NECFrontRow.com.