Jo’el Emanuel, a 6-6 sophomore forward from Suffern, N.Y., scored a career high 24 points Monday, leading FDU to a 92-86 road win over nonconference Division I Buffalo in the season opener.
The Knights came in as a 6-point underdog in their first game of the season after last year’s monumental upset of No. 1 seeded Purdue in the NCAA tournament.
Now, some nine months later, with a new coach and a new cast of players, the Knights left Buffalo in the wee hours of the morning, pinning a “W” into the ledger of this new season.
Jack Castleberry, in his first game as FDU head coach, was doused with water as his team celebrated in the visitors’ locker room afterwards.
The Knights answered any questions fans might have about their ability to score and to stay hungry after the monumental March Madness win followed by the one-and-done exit by head coach Tobin Anderson for Iona.
“I’m thrilled for the guys, man. We had a lot of expectations on us coming into the season and to be honest, we didn’t have great scrimmages,” Castleberry said.
Picked to finish third in a preseason poll of Northeast Conference coaches, the Knights had three players joining Emanuel in double-figures scoring — Joe Munden Jr. (19), Devante Jamison (17) and Sean Moore (10). Ansley Almonor added 9 points and 10 rebounds.
Emanuel hit a 3-pointer to open the contest and scored 18 first-half points. He sank two 3’s and grabbed 11 rebounds for the contest.
FDU hit 8 of 13 from the arc in the first half to lead 54-44 at the break.
Buffalo fought back in the second half but, paced by 13 points in the period from Munden, the Knights took home the win.
FDU scored 28 off fast breaks and added 18 on turnovers.
Buffalo was opening its season, the first under George Halcovage III, a former Villanova assistant.
FDU hosts Penn State Brandywine at 7 p.m. ET tonight, streamed live on NEC Front Row.