PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Senior forward J.J. Moore (Brentwood, N.Y.) shot 8-of-14 to score a career-high 26 points, but it was not enough as Rutgers (4-4) dropped a 73-72 decision to Fairleigh Dickinson (2-6) Tuesday evening at the RAC in the NIT Season Tip-Off consolation round. FDU shot 8-of-15 from behind the arc in the second half to capture the victory against an RU squad limited to eight scholarship players, as leading scorer and rebounder Kadeem Jack (Queens, N.Y.) was sidelined due to a sore lower right leg.
Moore supplemented his performance with four steals and six rebounds.
Redshirt senior forward Wally Judge (Washington, D.C.) joined Moore in double figures with 10 points, while also grabbing six rebounds. Junior guard Jerome Seagears (Silver Spring, Md.) added nine points and dished-out six assists.
Rutgers out-rebounded the visitors by a 38-32 margin to establish a 24-20 edge in points in the paint. Freshman forward Junior Etou (Republic of Congo) aided the defensive effort by issuing five blocked shots.
The Scarlet Knights jumped-out to an early 11-3 lead in a first half that featured two ties and two lead changes. FDU worked an 18-16 advantage before a 10-0 RU run provided the home squad a 26-18 buffer. The Scarlet Knights maintained the advantage and took a 34-31 lead in to the locker room at the midpoint.
FDU tweaked the twine with consistency in the final 20 minutes, shooting 50 percent (13-of-26), as RU made just 32.3 percent of its field goal attempts. Courtesy of its hot hand, the visitors held a 58-51 lead with 5:43 to play. The home squad battled back, however, and tied the score at 63-63 after a pair of Moore free throws.
A set of D’Von Campbell (Arlington, Texas) free throws with 1:50 on the clock provided RU a 69-66 lead and it appeared the Scarlet Knights would grind-out the victory. FDU scored the next six points down the stretch, however, to escape the truncated pyramid with the surprising win.
Rutgers returns to action after the Thanksgiving holiday, taking on George Washington in a 7 p.m. tip-off on Wednesday, Dec. 4. The game will be televised live on SNY.
- Senior forward J.J. Moore posted a career-high 26 points in the game. His previous best was 21, which he had done twice.
- Moore has now scored 20 or more points in two straight games for the first time in his career.
- Moore scored 20 or more points for the second time this season and fifth time in his career.
- Moore played 35 minutes, tying his career high. He also played 35 minutes vs. Drexel on Nov. 19.
- Redshirt sophomore forward Stephen Zurich played a career-high four minutes.
- Junior guard D’Von Campbell scored in double figures for the fifth time this season with 13 points on the night. It’s the seventh time in his career that he scored in double figures.
- Senior forward Wally Judge scored in double figures (10) for the fourth time this season and second-straight game. It’s the 22nd time in his career that he has scored 10 or more points in a contest.
- Freshman forward Junior Etou recorded his first career block in the first half.
- Etou finished with five blocks, the most for an RU player since Kadeem Jack recorded six vs. Sacred Heart on Nov. 12, 2012.
- Junior guard Myles Mack played 37 minutes, tying a career-high. He had previously played 37 minutes twice, with the last coming at Georgetown on March 2, 2013.
- Moore scored the first Rutgers points of the game. Five different players have registered the first points for RU through eight games – Seagears, Jack, Mack, Moore and Judge.
- Eddie Jordan went with the starting lineup of forward Wally Judge, forward Malick Kone, guard Myles Mack, forward J.J. Moore and guard Jerome Seagears for the first time this season.
Rutgers Head Coach Eddie Jordan
On if he can put a finger on what is going wrong: “We lost three tough games at home. We haven’t played; probably one game we played longer, harder, smarter than the opponent and we just didn’t do that tonight.”
On how much missing Kadeem Jack and other members attributed to the game: “Well, there are no excuses. You have just got to come out with the people you have. We just have to make plays.”
On if missing some of the guys change what you wanted to do: “No, it shouldn’t and it didn’t change what I wanted to do and it should have changed for the team. As a matter of fact, you should rally around situations like that and play with a lot more enthusiasm, a lot more harmony and really get after it.”
On if he thought the team had rallied enough to win late in the game: “No. Not until the final buzzer is off and you’re up at least one point. No, because they (FDU) have potential to make shots, which they did. They had two shooters, two guys who made big shots, big threes, and we didn’t come up with shots like that. In the games that we’ve lost, we just haven’t made the plays it takes for a good team to win.”
FDU Head coach Greg Herenda
Opening statement: "I'd like to say it has been a privilege to play in the National Invitation Tournament. Being a New Jersey native, I know a lot about history going back at Rutgers. We were just fortunate tonight, made a bunch of shots and just tried our hardest. Eddie (Jordan) is a smart coach and really made it tough on us. Matt MacDonald made a huge three and we won. I'm just so happy for my team that they can enjoy Thanksgiving like this. I took the job May 1 and had six players in the program with no staff. We just had hungry players and I told them if they work hard they will win a championship some day. This wasn't a championship today, but I thought it was a championship effort. I'm just proud of my guys and thankful."
On significance of the win: "This win justifies what we have been doing since August. These kids have worked hard. We played at Arizona and versus Metro (State) - a tough schedule so far. This validates what we do in practice every day and shows them we can win games on the road in a tough environment. I'm hard on my guys, coach them tough but I respect them and love them. They deserve the fruits and to have a happy Thanksgiving."
On MacDonald's late three-pointer: "We wanted to open up the floor and let Sid(ney Sanders Jr.) go. In college basketball, players make plays. Sid drove it in and Matt (MacDonald) opened up deep. Matt joined us in August after having no scholarship offers. The kid shoots so many shots in practice and it paid off for him tonight."