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Eric Murdock Jr. leads the way for the Lions over Rutgers-Camden

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EWING – The College of New Jersey’s men’s basketball head coach Matt Goldsmith told his team that Turkey tastes better after a win. As the Lions finished their schedule before the Thanksgiving Holiday break, they were able to dominate Rutgers-Camden.

The Lions won 93-66 over the Scarlet Raptors at Packer Hall in front of about 150 people in attendance.

“It was important for us to get off the winless factor in the conference,” head coach Matt Goldsmith said. “Saturday, I think we came out flat and didn’t execute our stuff, and Montclair State is a good team this year. They got after us and beat us pretty good in that game. I was a little bit upset about that, and I wanted them to respond (last night).

“On Sunday and Monday, I talked to them about TCNJ basketball and what we do. I think we did some things on Saturday that we don’t normally do and we had to talk about it. There’s some habits we’re trying to break. But the guys have really bought in and they do what I ask them to do. We talked (on Monday) about turkey tasting better, and it always does after a conference win. It was nice to get one at home and take care of business early.”

The home team improved to 3-2 on the season, including 1-1 within the New Jersey Athletic Conference. The visiting Scarlet Raptors dropped to 0-4 overall and 0-1 within the NJAC.

“When we see a conference game on the schedule, we always have to play hard,” Eric Murdock Jr. mentioned. “Every team in the NJAC is tough, so we make sure we handle our business.”

The Scarlet Raptors had a better performance in the second half compared to their first half. They scored 45 points against many of the Lions backups.

After the first several minutes of the second half, Goldsmith elected to give much of his bench more playing time. While they were in, they were able to score 43 second-half points and 34 bench points overall.

Rutgers-Camden shot 35.2 overall after shooting just 30.3 in the first half. They also had 54 bench points.

Elijah Robles, who came off the bench, had a team-high 22 points and he was the lone player in double figures for the Scarlet Raptors. Both Davis Graham and Noah McFarlane added eight points each, while Julian Diaz-Smitherman and Isaac Destin had six.

Three other players had four, while two more had two points.

The Lions, who jumped out to a 50-21 halftime lead, dominated play more than that score indicated. For several minutes, Rutgers-Camden had trouble getting past 10 points.

“We wanted to change it up and apply pressure to them,” Murdock Jr. said. “We wanted to make sure they had no easy baskets. We wanted to make sure they worked for their buckets.”

A layup by Shaun Thomas with 9:10 left in the first half gave Rutgers Camden 10 points, as the Lions led 33-10, then Jordan Glover immediately followed up with a three-pointer.

The Lions led by as much as 32 points (50-18) in the first half when Steven Kelly made two straight free throws.

In the second half, they led by as much as 38 points when Murdock Jr. made a free throw to give the Lions a 62-24 lead.

The uptempo offense that Goldsmith has put into place had the team shooting 47.8% in the game. They were also 9-of-31 from three point range, as well. They also had 18 fast break points.

“We talked a lot about transition offense and taking the right shots in transition rather than taking any shot,” Goldsmith stated. “We talked a lot about Murdock taking the right opportunities when you have them. Then, executing when you don’t – he did an awesome job of that. Every decision he made was the right one even the crazy lefty floater thing that turned into an and 1. He had it going (last night).”

Murdock Jr. led the game with 26 points. He was followed by Glover and Eric Klacik, who had 14 each.

Everyone else for the Lions had less than 10 points each with Kevin Johnson having the highest at six. Elias Bermudez and Andrew Gurick were the only two players who did not score in the game.

“We talk a lot about when you’re in a circumstance like this to take care of business so that guys, who work hard in practice, can get a chance to play,” Goldsmith added. “When we were up by a lot at half, I told them to keep it up and asked them to give a good five minutes, so that we can try to get these guys in, who take just as much time out of their day – juggling class, work and practice/games – but doesn’t see the (court) as much.

“I wanted to award them, and I was happy that our guys gave them that opportunity. They got a lot of minutes, and I was happy to see that. Lance Taylor, once he came in, made a three pointer. We got good playing time from Andrew Gurick and Liam Byrne.”

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