Freshmen Help Men's Basketball To Season-Opening Victory

Aziz Parker (0) recorded 17 points and 7 rebounds in his collegiate debut as Felician defeated Mercy on Nov. 12, 2018. (Artur Workstus)
Aziz Parker (0) recorded 17 points and 7 rebounds in his collegiate debut as Felician defeated Mercy on Nov. 12, 2018. (Artur Workstus)

RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Redshirt freshman Aziz Parker (Westhampton, N.J./Medford Tech) came off the bench to record 17 points and seven rebounds and true freshman Dee-End McRae (Irvington, N.J./Central) punctuated the victory with a last-second dunk as Felician University defeated visiting Mercy College, 80-76, in non-conference men's basketball action on Monday night before a standing room-only crowd of 489 at Job Gymnasium.

Monday's game was the 2018-19 opener for both schools. Felician was victorious in its opener for the first time since the 2015-16 campaign against Bloomsburg University.

Junior Zamir Wright (Newark, N.J./University HS) collected 15 points and freshman Jay'von Jackson (Plainfield, N.J./St. Mary-Elizabeth) added 12 for the Golden Falcons. Sophomore Bryan Griffin (Pomona, N.Y./St. Joseph Regional [N.J.]) topped five double-figure scorers for Mercy with 18 points.

Mercy opened the second half with a 10-0 run over the first four minutes, 44 seconds, extending a 42-40 halftime lead to a 12-point bulge. After the teams traded field goals, Mercy went cold, allowing the hosts to flip the script. Jackson scored seven points during a 16-1 Felician uprising that left the Golden Falcons on top, 58-55, with 10:15 to play.

The defenses took over, and that score held for nearly two minutes of game time until a tying three-pointer by Mercy graduate student Tawayne Anderson Jr. (Freeport, N.Y./Long Island Lutheran). Felician, however, went ahead to stay on a Parker jumper at the 6:07 mark, a shot that touched off 11-0 run.

With 2:21 remaining, Felician still led by 10, and the hosts were up 77-69, at the 1:01 mark. But the Mavericks found their way to the foul line twice, converting three of four, and after rebounding the miss, Anderson drained a three to trail just 77-75. Wright was fouled and made only the second attempt for a three-point edge.

During Mercy's timeout, with 11.1 ticks showing, Felician coach Ivan Lewis elected to foul the Mavericks intentionally. Daquon Ervin (Brooklyn, N.Y./Northfield Mount Hermon) made only the second attempt, and McRae (eight points in 12 minutes) ran the floor for the put-back dunk at 0:01.5 to secure the victory.

Felician senior Rahsaan Williams (Brooklyn, N.Y./Chelsea CTE) turned in eight points, 14 rebounds and four blocks. Senior Sal Barbetto (New City, N.Y./Clarkstown North) turned in 16 points for Mercy, and Maverick sophomore Matthew Alectus (Hollywood, Fla./Hallandale) had 10 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks.

The opening period featured five ties, the last time at 31-31, and seven lead changes, before Mercy took the two-point edge into intermission.

Felician travels to Pace University on Saturday for a 3:30 p.m. tipoff.