GLASSBORO, N.J. – Penn State Brandywine posted an 87-79 men's basketball season-opening victory over Widener University on Thursday evening during the first round of Rowan University's LaScala Fire Tournament.
The triumph, Brandywine's first in a season opener since the 2000-01 season, gave new head coach Justin Dunbar-Stevens his first victory.
The Lions forced 24 turnovers by the Pride, including 16 during the first half, as Brandywine built a six-point advantage through 20 minutes.
Brandywine led wire-to-wire as Anthony Lattanzi (Downingtown, Pa./Downingtown West) took the opening tip and sank a layup. He then grabbed a steal and found Dwayne Coleman (Philadelphia, Pa./Delaware Valley Charter) for another layup just 30 seconds into the contest.
Isiah Cook (Reading, Pa./Reading), who fueled the offense in the first half with 14 points, pushed the lead to double figures for the first time at 15-5 by burying a three-pointer. Three minutes later, a layup from Cook swelled the margin to 13 points, Brandywine's biggest of the half.
The Pride fought back, shrinking a 10-point Lion lead with four minutes to go down to six on Jalen Howard's bucket just before the halftime horn.
Widener got as close as four, scoring the first basket of the second half, but Josh Smith (Glassboro, N.J./Glassboro) countered with a triple, jumpstarting an 11-4 Brandywine spurt that extended the lead back to double figures.
The Lions continued to roll, using back-to-back buckets from Bryce Barrouk (West Chester, Pa./West Chester Rustin) to build the biggest lead of the night, 16 points, with six minutes to play.
Widener climbed back to within seven points with 61 seconds to play, but Barrouk answered with a lay in to end the comeback bid for the Pride.
Coleman coupled team highs with 20 points and 13 rebounds to record a double-double, while Barrouk poured in 18 points and Cook finished with 15. Smith chipped in nine points, seven boards and four assists.
Brandywine shot 46 percent from the field and drained nine three-pointers, while limiting the Pride to 2-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc.
Brandywine will face Rowan in the tournament championship game Friday night at 8:00 PM.