FDU Drops to 0-2 with 96-75 Loss to No. 24 Rutgers

By Anthony Covino

Sports Editor 

Men’s basketball dropped to 0-2 on the season after a 96-75 loss at No. 24-ranked Rutgers of the Big 10 Friday. Rutgers improved to 2-0.

FDU will travel to Hosfstra Monday (7 p.m.) looking to snap a three-game losing streak dating back to the 73-72 loss to LIU in the NEC quarterfinals in last year’s COVID-19 shortened postseason.

Friday night, four Knights scored in double digits. Senior and preseason All-NEC guard Jahlil Jenkins and sophomore guard Brandon Rush led FDU with16 points each. Freshman 6-8 forward Pier Olivier-Racine scored a career high 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds while sophomore guard Callum Baker added a career high 11. Senior forward and preseason All-NEC forward Elyjah Williams got into early foul trouble and finished with 6 points. 

“I love my team, I love their spirit but we just don’t have enough reps right now to play an entire 40 minutes, especially in a Big Ten arena against a really well-coached, athletic basketball team,” said FDU head coach Greg Herenda in a press release.  “Our players are getting better and doing everything and anything they can for our University, to go out and travel and play and test and practice. I just can’t thank our players enough, we’re going to be good and these games get us ready for March.”

The Knights, which opened the COVID-19 delayed season with a 84-66 loss at Quinnipiac Wednesday, are playing short handed due to the loss of three players. Junior guard Brandon Powell is recovering from an injury while redshirt senior Xzavier Malone-Key and sophomore guard Devon Dunn have opted out of the season due to COVID-19 concerns. Malone-Key is entering the transfer portal.

Against Rutgers, FDU shot 29-68 (42.6%) from the field, 8-22 (36.4%) from three-point territory, and 9-12 (75%) from the free-throw line. 

For Rutgers, junior guard Ron Harper Jr. had a career high 30 points. He is the son of the five-time NBA champion.Senior guard Jacob Young added 24, his career high, and junior guard Montez Mathis added 15.

FDU opened a 26-19 lead with 8:45 remaining in the first half before Rutgers stormed back to lead 47-33 at the break.

Rutgers, ranked in the Top 25 for the first time in more than 40 years, opened the season with a 84-66 win over Sacred Heart.

Against FDU, Rutgers shot 37-65 (56.9%) from the field, 7-19 (36.8%) from the arc, and 15-25 (60%) from the free-throw line. 

FDU is now 1-8 since 2004 against in-state rival Rutgers of the Big Ten conference. The Knights’ last win was Coach Greg Herenda’s first Division 1 win on Nov. 26, 2013, a 73-72 squeaker. 

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Brandon Rush recorded 16 points in FDU’s 96-75 loss to Rutgers on Friday. (Photo courtesy of FDU Knights Athletics)