BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- The Moravian College men's basketball team had four players in double figures as the Greyhounds rallied from a 13-point deficit in the first half to post an 82-69 victory over John Jay College in non-conference action in Johnston Hall Sunday afternoon.
The victory improves Moravian's record to 7-8 on the season, and the Blue and Grey are now 5-3 in Johnston Hall this season under first-year Head Coach Justin Potts. Potts' has put in a pressing, up-tempo style of play that saw the Hounds force 21 turnovers against John Jay including 12 in the second half.
"I think we responded to some adjustments we needed to make at halftime and got back to playing Moravian basketball," commented Potts. "We did a better job in our pressure. We did a better job at the defensive end to hold them under 40 percent and we got great contributions from the bench so I think all of things went to playing much better in the second half."
Junior forward Brandon McGuire paced the Hounds with 20 points and eight rebounds to go with three assists and a pair of blocked shots while junior guard Sean Hanna added 15 points, five assists and a pair of blocks. Hanna was 6-for-6 at the foul line in the final 1:13 to help seal the victory. Freshman guard/forward Jake McGee tossed in 13 points to go with five rebounds while freshman forward Oneil Holder contributed 12 points and seven boards.
Sophomore guard Matt Cardonne scored nine points on a trio of three-pointers while sophomore guard Jack Aussenheimer tied his career high with seven points. Junior guard Isaiah Jennings dished out six assists and added four points while freshman guard Will Brazukas had a career-high seven assists in his first career start.
"I thought we were pretty balanced today offensively," stated Potts. "Brandon and Oneil scored, and Jake got back to shooting the ball a little bit better today. Our point guards were 13 assists to just two turnovers, which is a great night. Sean has been doing a little bit of everything for us and did that again today. The guys off the bench like Matt, Jack and Sebastien Jasmin, who got some minutes, played well. It was our best team effort of the year so far in the second half."
The Bloodhounds scored first to open the contest before a three-pointer by Holder gave the Hounds a 3-2 lead at the 18:32 mark. Cardonne would tie the score at 6-6 with another three-pointer before 10-3 run by John Jay. Moravian closed within two points, 18-16, on a lay-up from McGuire with 11:31 still to play in the opening half, but the Bloodhounds would push the lead to 35-22 with 5:25 before the intermission. Moravian scored twice in the final 35 seconds of the half including a three-pointer by McGuire with four ticks left as the Greyhounds headed to the locker room trailing 41-37.
Moravian's offense stepped up in the final 20 minutes with 45 points including 11-of-12 at the foul line, and the Hounds' defense would limit John Jay to 28 points and just 38.5 percent from the floor after the Bloodhounds shot 53.3 percent in the opening 20 minutes of action.
"We did a much better job defensively in the second half," noted Potts. "I think we changed pressures and tried to do some different things after halftime. I think our guys have a better understanding of where they could get some traps. We had many more deflections in the second half and that usually generates some turnovers. We also did a better job in the half court where we were able to get some turnovers and stops to get out in transition."
John Jay led 47-40 before an 8-2 run by the Hounds cut the lead to 49-48 with 14:44 to play. Hanna scored the final five points of the run on a three-pointer and then a lay-up after the Blue and Grey's pressure forced a turnover right away. Down 51-48, Brazukas connected on a pair of free throws and Holder hit a lay-up at 12:14 to give Moravian the lead back at 52-51. That 4-0 run would become a 19-2 run as the Hounds scored 15 of the next 17 points with a three-point play by McGuire pushing Moravian's lead to 67-53 with 6:57 to play.
John Jay closed within four points, 67-63 before Cardonne connected on a pair of three-pointers, the first beating the shot clock, as the lead when back to 73-64 with 2:49 to play.
Sunday's meeting was the first between the schools since the Greyhounds hosted the Bloodhounds in the opening round of the NCAA Division III Tournament back in March of 2008 with John Jay posting an 80-74 win.
Moravian is scheduled to return to action on Wednesday, January 20 when the squad hosts The University of Scranton in a Landmark Conference game with tip-off set for 7:00 p.m. in Johnston Hall.