ASHLAND, Ohio (Dec. 28) ‚Äì Despite three players scoring in double figures and making a season-high 12 three-pointers, the California University of Pennsylvania men‚Äôs basketball team suffered an 88-83 loss to Aquinas College (Mich.) on Sunday at the Kates Gymnasium in the first day of the Holiday Inn Express Classic, hosted by Ashland University.
The Vulcans fall to 4-3 and will face either host Ashland or Humber College (Ontario) in consolation action tomorrow, Monday, Dec. 29.
Sophomore guard Joe Berenato
(Pittsburgh, Pa./Central Catholic) paced Cal U with a career-high 21 points off the bench, while senior forward Julian Logan (Kalamazoo, Mich./Loy Norrix) and junior guard Jerial Nixon (Lorain, Ohio/Lorain Admiral King) added 16 and 15 points, respectively.
Senior guard Kenny Johnson
(Beaver Falls, Pa./Beaver Falls) finished with eight points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals in his first start of the season.
Cal U broke a 23-23 tie with 6:47 remaining in the first half with a three-pointer by Nixon. The Vulcans then made six-straight shots from the field to close the half to take a 40-32 halftime lead after shooting 54.8 percent (14-of-26) from the floor in the opening 20 minutes.
In the second half, the Vulcans stretched their lead to 12 points, 44-32, after a lay-up by Nixon with 18:34 remaining. However, the Saints mounted an 18-6 rally to tie the contest at 50-50 with 13:42 left in the game. Behind strong second-half shooting by both teams, the score remained close. Aquinas claimed the final lead change of the game on a three-pointer with 2:03 left in the game to break a 77-77 tie. The Saints then made 9-of-11 free-throw attempts down the stretch to seal the victory.
The two teams combined for 11 lead changes and seven ties in the second half.
Senior forward Pedja Lazic registered a double-double for Aquinas (7-7) with game-high totals of 27 points and 10 rebounds (four offensive). Guards John Lierman and James Telman combined to score 45 points after each player scored 20-plus points.
For the game, the Vulcans shot 51.7 percent (30-58) from the floor and made 54.5 percent (12-of-22) from beyond the arc. The Saints, who shot a blistering 69.0 percent in the second half, made 58.8 percent (30-of-51) of their shots for the game.
Aquinas held a 34-21 advantage on the glass and scored 34 points in the paint. Cal U committed a season-low nine turnovers in the loss.