Charlotte. NC - The Johnson & Wales Charlotte Men's Basketball Team hosted Regent University on Saturday. The Wildcats, currently ranked #3 in the latest USCAA D2 Coaches Poll, defeated the Royals 86-69, moving their season record to 10-3. The win marks the earliest the JWU Men's Basketball program has reached double digit wins.
The game featured 8 ties and 12 lead changes, but it started with the Wildcats jumping to a ten point lead, 14-4, with Antonio Smith and Brandon Kostyk each adding 6 six points in the first ten minutes of play. The visitors from Virginia Beach, VA slowly chipped away, and a Kristopher Warren jumper with five minutes remaining in the first half tied the game at 23-23. Shortly after leveling, another Warren bucket gave the Royals their first lead of the game. The teams would trade baskets before halftime, but a Smith jumper for JWU sent the hosts into halftime holding a 29-27 lead.
The Wildcats extended their slim lead to six points multiple times in the opening five minutes of the second period, but the Royals hung around, eventually taking another lead 43-42 with 13:44 left to play. Regent's run would extend to 14-0, giving them the 50-42 advantage with 11 minutes to go. The Wildcats answered with a 9-0 run of their own, punctuated by a Majerle Poole bucket with 9:49 to play. With a 65-64 lead with 5:31 on the clock, the Wildcats came alive, finishing the game with a 22-4 run. Robert Hobson and Zyrion Wilkins combined for 15 of the Wildcats' last 22 points.
JWU shot 55.6% from the field, including 37% from three. They held Regent to 41.4% shooting on the day. The Wildcats held the advantage on points in the paint 34-16 and on bench points 18-8, but JWU's strongest advantage came from their clutch free throw shooting. The Wildcats knocked down 16 of 19 from the stripe, the fourth best percentage in program history when attempting at least 19 free throws.
Hobson led all scorers with 26 points, going 8 of 13 from the field and 6 of 10 from three. Poole (15), Smith (12), and Wilkins (11) also hit double figures for JWU. Wilkins paced the team with seven boards while Poole set the mark with 4 assists and 3 steals. CJ Miller added three blocks for the victors.
"Credit to Regent: They played a tremendous game," commented Johnson & Wales Head Coach Dan Larkin. "We didn't accomplish what we hoped to defensively, but we're aware of many of the mistakes we are making and will look to correct them moving forward."
The Wildcats won't wait to long to return to the floor as they host Johnston Community College on Sunday, January 12th, for a 3:00 pm tip-off.