Rutgers will have to find a way to start hotter when the tough teams appear on the schedule, but picked up its second straight win with a gritty second half. Dropping Canisius 66-51 in the first round of the preseason NIT, the Scarlet Knights locked down defensively and started making enough shots to pull away in the second half.
Rutgers trailed through 20 minutes, but took over the game late by hitting open shots and tightening up defensively.
“It wasn’t consistent enough, but it’s coming,” said coach Eddie Jordan. “This is a new team.
The size advantage paid off late with senior Wally Judge and junior Kadeem Jack recording double-doubles. Jack finished with 13 and 11 with Judge adding 11 and 12.
Jordan, however, called guard Jerome Seagears the “story of the night.” After a rough game against Yale, Seagears bounced back with 15 points, nine assists and just two turnovers.
Seagears also held the responsibility of covering top Canisius scorer Billy Baron, who got off just seven shots.
“We were just coming out and trying to stop Baron,” Seagears said. “Knowing he’s a great player, we knew if we could limit his posessions, limit his buckets, then we had a great chance of winning this game.”
Rutgers (3-1) returns to the RAC tomorrow night against Drexel for the second round of the NIT. The winner goes to Madison Square Garden Wednesday and Friday of next week.
“It’s my hometown, so it would mean a lot just getting to go back home,” Jack said. “It’s always a great feeling getting to play at the Garden, so it would mean a lot.”