Strong first half carries men's basketball past Kutztown

Strong first half carries men's basketball past Kutztown

PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia University men's basketball team turned in a dominating first half performance and then withstood a late charge to defeat visiting Kutztown 89-82 in a non-conference contest Wednesday night in the Gallagher Center.

The Rams (14-4) put on a shooting display during the opening 20 minutes of play, connecting on 63.9 percent of their attempts—including 4-of-5 from 3-point range, to lead 55-38 at the half. It was the first time that Philadelphia scored at least 50 in a half since scoring 52 in the second half of an 83-63 win at Georgian Court on Nov. 20, 2014.

Forward Peter Alexis (Wilkes-Barre, Pa./Holy Redeemer) was the driving force behind the Rams' first half offense as 23 of his game-high 25 points came in the first 20 minutes. Alexis shot 10-of-17 from the floor and grabbed six rebounds, four on the offensive end of the floor.

With the Rams leading 9-6, Alexis hit a tough jumper in the lane to spark a 23-7 run that gave Philadelphia a half-high 19-point advantage 32-19. Alexis led the run with eight points over the 7:01 run, while Kaison Randolph (Trenton, N.J./Pennington Prep) added six of his 22 points. The Rams shot 10-of-13 from the field and held the Golden Bears to 2-of-13 shooting.

The gap grew to a game-high 21 points when Randolph drained a layup 1:42 into the second half to make the score 59-38.

Kutztown (12-3) made a furious rally, outscoring Philadelphia 22-5 over a 7:08 span, to close the margin to 71-67 with 8:07 to play. The hot-shooting Rams cooled off during the run as they made just two of their 10 shots. Kutztown, behind six points from Will Adams, shot 7-of-9 overall.

The Golden Bears had a chance to make it a one-possession game, but Randolph stole an Adams outlet pass at midcourt and quickly found a wide open Cory Dean (Danbury, Conn./Danbury) on the left wing. Dean knocked down his first collegiate 3-pointer to start a brief 6-2 spurt that would push the lead back up to 79-71.

After Kutztown once again got back within four, Philadelphia went 5-of-6 from the free throw line while Kutztown missed three straight shots to widen the gap to nine (88-79) and seal the win.

Brendan Kilpatrick (Norristown, Pa./Malvern Prep) had 14 points and TJ Huggins (Alexandria, Va./T.C. Williams) racked up 13 points, nine rebounds, and five assists for the Rams.

Ethan Ridgeway paced Kutztown with 21 points and four assists. Josh Johnson posted 17 points and 11 rebounds.

Philadelphia finished up shooting 54.1 percent from the field, 6-of-10 from 3-point range. Kutztown shot 39.2 percent overall, 5-of-21 from behind the arc.

The Rams have a week off before travelling to Goldey-Beacom for a Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference game on Wednesday, Jan. 20 at 8 p.m.