PISCATAWAY, N.J. – A barrage of three-pointers helped the Bryant University men's basketball team carve into a 16-point second-half deficit but the game-winner was just off-line, allowing Rutgers to escape the Bulldogs' attempt at spoiling the Scarlet Knights' opener, 73-71, Thursday night at the Rutgers Athletic Center.
Rutgers 73, Bryant 71
Records: Bryant (0-2), Rutgers (1-0)
Location: Rutgers Athletic Center (Piscataway, N.J.)
COACH GRASSO'S COMMENTS
"It says a lot about our program. Two years ago, the guys came down here and lost by 30. Here we are two years later. We're trying to build something. Had a shot to win it at the buzzer. I think the program is moving in the right direction. My guys fought their tails off. I couldn't be prouder of those guys. They played as hard as they could, they competed. I had five guards on the floor at the end of the game. I told them in the locker room if they compete like that all year, we have a chance to do special things. This team is just getting to know each other. We have seven, eight new guys. Our best basketball is way ahead of us."
- A 9-0 Rutgers run put the Scarlet Knights ahead 32-20 with 3:09 remaining in the opening half.
- Rutgers led by as many as 16 at 52-36 before Bryant outscored the hosts 35-21 over the final 14:40 of the game.
- Bryant cut the deficit to two in the final minute, forced a tie-up, and had a chance from Grant to win at the buzzer, but the iron was unkind and enabled Rutgers to survive in its home opener.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- The game began with the teams combining to shoot 3-for-17 and tied at five at the first media timeout.
- Rutgers would move ahead by six before a Pride three broke up a 10-3 Scarlet Knight spurt, pulling Bryant back within 21-18 with 8:50 remaining in the half.
- A 9-0 Rutgers run put the Scarlet Knights in front 32-20, but Grant would heat up to score Bryant's next 10 points and get the Bulldogs back within 34-30 with 32 seconds to play in the half.
- The Scarlet Knights scored the final four points of the half to take a 38-30 lead into the locker room.
- A one-shot delay of game technical and hook-and-hold flagrant helped Rutgers extend its lead to 46-34 with 16:15 to go.
- Rutgers extended its advantage to 52-36 before Bryant began to chip away, cutting the deficit to 57-45 with 12 minutes remaining in the contest.
- A flurry of threes brought Bryant back into the game with Pride knocking one down to make it 67-62 with 2:58 to play.
- The Bulldogs would keep battling, with another three-ball from Pride making the score 73-71 in favor of the home team with 50 seconds to go.
- Junior Ayo Dada (Houston, Texas) secured a jump ball with 27 seconds remaining and the arrow in Bryant's favor, setting up a final offensive possession.
- A game-tying layup attempt from redshirt-junior Hall Elisias (Valley Stream, N.Y.) was blocked out of bounds off Rutgers, and off a baseline inbound with four seconds remaining, Grant's bid for the game-winner was just off the mark.
- Grant and Pride knocked down five three-pointers each. Dada, junior Mikail Simmons (Murphy, Texas) and freshman Michael Green III (Bronx, N.Y.) also sank one apiece.
- Green tallied 11 points to score in double figures for the second-straight game to begin his collegiate career.
- Sophomore Patrick Harding (Fairfield, Conn.) scored six points, while Dada (3), Simmons (3), Elisias (2) and senior Juan Cardenas (Apartado, Colombia) also found the scoring column. Full stats are not available at press time due to technical issues.
- Elisias, Simmons and Green made their first starts in Black & Gold Thursday.
- The two-point margin of defeat was Bryant's second-closest result against a Power 5 opponent in program history. The Bulldogs defeated Boston College, 56-54, Nov. 25, 2012.
- Bryant drops to 0-3 all-time against Rutgers.
- The Bulldogs have played a Big Ten member to a single-digit margin in each of head coach Jared Grasso's first two seasons in Smithfield. Bryant took No. 24 Iowa to the wire last season in a 72-67 contest in Iowa City.
Bryant returns home to host Cornell Sunday at the Chace Athletic Center. Tickets for the 1 p.m. contest are available HERE, while Jon Wallach and Frankie Dobbs will have the call on NEC Front Row.
Bryant Men's Basketball 2019-20 season tickets are available by clicking HERE.