Drew Pulls Away from CSE in Neighborhood Rivalry Game, 88-70

Former St. Joe’s Standouts Walker and McBurnie Combine for 19 Pts, 22 rebs, 5 Dunks, and 3 Blks in Win

Former St. Joseph’s standout, Malachi Walker skies for the third of his 4 dunks for Drew early in the second half of the Rangers contest against neighborhood rival, College of St. Elizabeth on Wednesday night in Madison.  Walker had a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds along with 3 blocks to help the Rangers defeat the Eagles, 88-70.

MADISON, NJ—A year ago, the College of St. Elizabeth, the relative newcomer on Madison Avenue in respect to men’s basketball swept neighborhood rivals, FDU-Florham and Drew en route to a 13-12 campaign. The Eagles then began the 2019-20 campaign by rallying from a 17 point first half deficit to defeat FDU-Florham a little over a week ago.

However, CSE won’t win bragging rights on Madison Avenue this year. Drew University made sure of that. Coming off a tough, 88-80 defeat at the hands of Hamilton College in the Championship Game of the Larry Horner Rose City Classic on Sunday, the Rangers were looking to get back on the winning track and with the help of a couple former GMC standouts, they were able to do that although it was not easy at times.

After ending the first half with the final six points, and then starting the second half with the first eight, Drew University built up a 55-38 lead only to see it evaporate as once again, the Eagles of CSE showed their grit by not giving up and battling back to within five at 66-61 with 8:41 remaining following a two handed jam by sophomore Jarek Johnson of Burlington Township, the hero of the win over FDU-Florham some eight days earlier.

Following a timeout with 8:21 to play, Drew pulled away with a 22-7 run that was sparked by Drew Gallagher, and included a two handed flush from along the right baseline by junior Malachi Walker of St. Joseph’s and several scores by freshman LJ Robinson of Manchester Township before finishing up with free throws by both Gallagher and Riley Collins for a 20 point lead late before defeating the College of St. Elizabeth, 88-70 at Baldwin Gymnasium on Wednesday night.

Former GMC Standouts, Walker and freshman Howard McBurnie, both St. Joe’s alums, and members of Dave Turco’s last GMCT Championship team in 2017, combined for 19 points, 22 boards, 5 dunks, and 3 blocks in the contest. Walker did most of the damage though with a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds along with 4 dunks and 3 blocked shots before fouling out late in the second half. McBurnie, who has consistently put up good numbers for Drew in the early going this season, chipped in with 8 points and 11 boards before leaving the game due to injury in the second half.

Robinson led all scorers with a game high 28 points including 5 of 6 from beyond the arc. He was 11 of 14 overall from the floor in 30 minutes of playing time, and added 3 steals and an assist. Collins had some struggles from the floor, but still managed to muster up 12 points on 3 field goals including a trey, and 5 of 6 from the line to go along with 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals. Collins, who shined against Hamilton on Sunday with a game high 31 points to make the Rose City Classic All Tournament Team, now has 1,485 point on his career, placing him 6th on Drew’s all time scoring list.

Playing in his third game this season, Gallagher compiled the most minutes of playing time this season for Drew with 18, and tallied 11 points on a perfect 2 of 2 shooting including a three from the floor and 6 of 6 from the line while grabbing 5 rebounds and handing out two assists. Junior Miles Lewis also played the most he has had all season, and made it count too. In 19 minutes, Lewis collected 8 points on a perfect 4 of 4 from the floor to go along with 6 rebounds and two assists. Three of his buckets came from athletic putbacks in the first half.

One key to Drew’s victory was the slowing down CSE’s all time leading scorer (1,404 points) and former GMC standout, Jason Saldiveri. Coming into the contest, Saldiveri was averaging 14 points per game including a season high of 19 in 30 minutes during a victory over St. Joseph’s of Long Island this past Saturday. Saddled with four fouls, Saldiveri was limited to only 22 minutes, and couldn’t get into a rhythm as he finished with his lowest scoring total to date on the year at 6 points. Picking up the slack was Ted Thelemaque with a team high 17 points on 7 of 13 field goals including 3 of 8 from beyond the arc.

Pierre Harden also chipped in with 13 points on 6 of 9 shooting including a three, and a two handed jam off a steal late in the first half. Darnill Brown added 11 points on 4 of 11 shooting including 3 of 5 from downtown while Roland Romano had a good stretch midway through the first half to get CSE back into the contest, and ended up going 5 of 10 from the floor for 10 points. Drew jumped out to an 11-6 lead with 16:28 to go in the first half as Robinson scored 5 points while McBurnie made two layups on Drew’s first three scores from the field, and Collins added a jumper.

Drew eventually extended the lead to eight points at 26-18 with a 15-12 run as Lewis scored on a transition layup and two tip-ins while Walker had dunks at the 14:45 and 11:20 marks. The College of St. Elizabeth managed to keep the deficit from getting away into double digits throughout the first half, and managed to close within one at 31-30 on a three pointer off the break from Brown at the 4:56 mark to cap a 12-5 spurt by the Eagles. Robinson then made back to back three pointers from opposite sides of the court including one from the right corner to extend the Rangers lead back to seven at 37-30 with 4:09 to go in the first half.

Following back to back jumpers from Thelemaque that pulled CSE back to within three at 37-34 with 3:19 to go in the half, Robinson scored on a layup in the paint at the 2:54 mark followed by a Lewis layup at the 2:18 mark for a 41-34 lead. The Eagles rallied back with the next four points including a layup by Romano at the 2:03 mark, and Harden’s steal for a dunk moments later to pull within three again at 41-38 with 1:40 to go in the half. Unfortunately for the Eagles, that would be the closest they would get for the rest of the game despite another patented second half run.

Drew closed out the first half with threes by Collins and Michael Boice for a 47-38 halftime lead, and then the Rangers began the second half on an 8-0 run sparked by Walker’s third dunk of the contest at the 19:19 mark, and two more threes from Robinson at the 18:29 and 17:08 marks respectively to cap a 14-0 tear over a span of 4:32 for a 55-38 advantage. To its credit, the College of St. Elizabeth would not go away. Instead, the Eagles used their talons to scratch and claw their way back into the game. Over a span of 8:25, the Eagles put together a rally much like they did in the second half versus another neighborhood rival, FDU-Florham eight days earlier with a 23-11 surge.

Harden led the charge with 11 of his points the game while Johnson added four including the dunk that drew the Eagles within five at 66-61 with 8:41 remaining. Brown and Thelemaque added treys while Treyvon Bennett added an and one. Following a timeout by the Rangers at the 8:21 mark, Gallagher netted two free throws, and after a Walker free throw and a scoring lull of about two minutes, he made a three from the corner in front of Drew’s bench off an inbounds play set up by Collins for a 72-61 lead with 6:07 remaining. A little less than a minute later, Walker got his fourth dunk of the game by taking an entry pass from Lewis along the baseline, and powering up for the two handed jam with 5:13 remaining for a 74-61 lead.

The Rangers then closed out the game by netting 10 foul shots down the stretch while Gallagher and Robinson each added layups to cap the 22-7 finish. With the victory, Drew improved to 3-1 overall on the season while the College of St. Elizabeth fell to 3-1. The Rangers will return to action next week with another rivalry game against FDU-Florham at Baldwin Gymnasium on Tuesday, November 26th at 7:00 PM. The Eagles return to action on Friday and Saturday in the Juniata Tournament in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. CSE plays Roanoke College in the opening round at 5:00 PM on Friday evening.

GMC NEWS AND NOTES: East Brunswick alum, Tom Wagenblast, who played for the Bears under legendary coach, Bo Henning, is now in his fourth season as head coach of the College of St. Elizabeth’s men’s program. Wagenblast, who had previously been an associate head coach for seven seasons, had the task of building the program from scratch after CSE decided to go coed in 2015. He now has a career record of 31-46.

Wagenblast’s staff also includes several former GMC standouts including Xavier Fuller (Carteret), Mike Summerer (East Brunswick), and recent Kean graduate Jodrell Thompson (Colonia). Also on the CSE roster is former J.P. Stevens standout point guard, Tyrese Conover. Jason Saldiveri, who played at New Brunswick, South Brunswick, and Sayreville, is averaging 12 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals per game so far this season for the Eagles.

Meanwhile, Malachi Walker is averaging 8.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.3 blocks, 1.0 assists, and 1.0 steals per game for Drew while Howard McBurnie has made a big impact early on as a freshman with 10.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per contest. Recent Drew graduate and former Cardinal McCarrick and J.P. Stevens standout, Sky Harris is now playing for the Elizabeth based Jersey Express of the ABA.