ROSEMONT, Pa. – The Ursinus College men's basketball team returned to Division III competition with a vengeance this afternoon, dominating the glass and filling it up from outside to roll to a 92-68 non-conference victory at Rosemont. Dripping confidence after a stellar showing at Division I Penn last weekend, the Bears made nine 3-pointers and rolled up a 44-26 rebounding advantage to snap a five-game losing streak in style.
Junior guard Matt Knowles (Waverly, Pa./Scranton Prep) matched his career high, set during Saturday's hard-fought loss against the Quakers, with 26 points (17 of them coming in the first half) on 10 of 16 shooting to spearhead the assault. Sophomore forward Joseph LoStracco (Chalfont, Pa./Archbishop Wood) proved a prolific running mate, scoring a season-high 21 points – including ten in a row at one point in the second half – to go with nine rebounds, and senior guard Mark Wonderling (Lederach, Pa./Souderton Area) stuffed the stat sheet with season highs of eight points and nine rebounds and a career-best six assists.
Sophomore forward Remi Janicot (Paris, France/Hun School) paired 12 points with seven rebounds and sophomore guard Brian Rafferty (Harleysville, Pa./Lansdale Catholic) finished with eight points and five assists for the Bears (2-5), who shot 67.9 percent (19 of 28) in the second half and 59.0 percent for the game (36 of 61), their best performance since making 63.6 percent in a victory over Eastern last year. Ursinus matched a season high with 21 assists.
Marcus Thomas led Rosemont (5-4) with 17 points, and Kyle Lafferty finished with 14.
Three days removed from battling the Quakers to a seven-point defeat, the Bears carried the momentum they established inside the spacious, iconic Palestra into Rosemont's intimate Alumnae Hall. Ursinus took command of the first half with a potent inside-outside attack, scoring on six consecutive possessions to cap a 22-7 ambush.
Knowles picked up right where he left off on Saturday, drilling back-to-back triples to provide a 15-8 lead. Wonderling took it from there, feeding sophomore Janicot for an easy finish before driving the right side of the lane untouched for a lay-in.
After a Ravens 3-pointer, LoStracco flexed his muscle inside, scoring on a put-back to restore a double-digit bulge. Wonderling added a second-chance bucket of his own before Knowles connected on a 3-pointer from the left wing converted a three-point play with a hard-nosed drive, making it 29-15 with 7:29 left in the half. Rosemont scored inside, but freshman guard Eric Williams (Plainfield, N.J./Hun School) canned a deep ball from the left wing to push the margin to 15; he splashed another trey from the top of the key, the result of a well-designed inbounds pass from Rafferty, a few possessions later.
Senior guard Malik Draper (Scranton, Pa./Scranton Prep) delivered an exclamation point with a thunderous breakaway slam, giving Ursinus a 37-24 advantage at the 3:32 mark. Later, Knowles continued his scorching stretch with consecutive baskets – one on a baseline drive, the second another left-wing long ball – and Wonderling scooped up a loose ball and scored just in front of the buzzer to give the Bears a 46-32 cushion at the break.
Knowles was 6 for 8 from the field in the first frame, making four of his six 3-point attempts as the Bears went 7 of 14 from deep. Ursinus held a 25-13 surplus on the boards and grabbed 10 offensive rebounds which led to 13 second-chance points.
The Ravens came out firing after the break, scoring eight unanswered points before Knowles quelled the uprising with his second three-point play, banking in a challenged runner. LoStracco (left) had a tip-in and powered up for a lay-up on back-to-back possessions, and Knowles parted the Rosemont defense with another drive, padding the lead back to 13 at 55-42. After a Raven trey, Rafferty nailed one of his own and Draper set up LoStracco for an easy finish to force the home side into a timeout at 14:32, trailing 60-45.
The margin did not dip into single digits until 7:35 remained, when Khai Roberts connected on a 3 to trim the Bear lead to 67-60. But LoStracco took over, scoring ten consecutive points – on five straight possessions – to help Ursinus pull away. LoStracco missed only one of his ten shot attempts on the day.
Knowles tacked onto LoStracco's personal run with another lay-up, giving him 26 for the second game in a row and granting the Red and Gold a 79-60 lead with 5:04 left. Knowles is the first Bear to score 25 or more points in back-to-back games since Jon Ward in 2011.
Ursinus led by as much as 27 in the closing seconds, with freshman guard Matt Williams (Wilmington, Del./St. Mark's) scoring back-to-back baskets to punctuate the rout.
Ursinus next travels to the nation's capital, where the Bears will open the Catholic University Tournament against Williams on Tuesday, December 29.