Caldwell College Cougars Handle Mercy College in Home Opener, 89-59

Junior guard Kevin Walker from Bayonne Credits: Matt McLagan

CALDWELL, NJ. – In the first home game of the season, the Caldwell College men’s basketball team defeated Mercy College, 89-59, in a non-conference game Wednesday night in the George R. Newman Center. The Cougars even their record at 1-1 for the year, while the Mavericks fall to 0-2. The game also marked the 490th career victory for head coach Mark Corino, who has won 395 games at Caldwell in 25-plus seasons.

First Half
The game went Caldwell’s way right from the tip, as the Cougars scored the first 18 points, led by six points from junior forward Michael Balkovic, (Neptune, NJ/St. John Vianney). Mercy pulled to within 11 points twice before four points apiece from Balkovic and junior guard Wyatt Polk (Haddonfield, NJ/Haddonfield) sparked a 10-2 run for a 40-21 advantage. Caldwell ended up taking a 45-27 lead into the break after shooting 53.3 percent from the field in the first half. Balkovic and Polk each had 10 points, with junior guard Kevin Walker (Bayonne, NJ/St. Peter’s Prep) dishing out seven assists.

Second Half
In the second half it was Mercy’s turn to get out of the gate fast. Three-pointers by LeBrandon Smith and Nate Stitchell helped the Mavericks start the period with a 15-2 run that cut the deficit to 47-40. But Caldwell responded with three three-pointers by sophomore guard Dawan Lighty (Paterson, NJ/Kennedy) in a 14-3 spree that made the score 61-43 with 13:23 to play. Mercy was able to get as close as 12 points before the Cougars pushed the lead to 20, 72-52 with 8:20 left and cruised to their first win of the season.

Game Highlights
  • Caldwell hit 8-of-21 from three-point range and went to the line 34 times, making 23, compared to 11-of-22 for the Mavericks 
  • Five Cougars scored in double figures, led by Lighty and Polk with 15 points each.
  • Sophomore forward Billy McDonald (North Haven, CT/North Haven) tallied a career-best 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field
  • Balkovic had 13 points
  • Sophomore forward Terik Bridgeman (Harlem, NY/Nia Prep) added 10 points, four blocks and a couple highlight-reel dunks
  • Walker finished with a career-high 10 assists to go with seven points and six rebounds while committing just one turnover
  • Smith paced Mercy with 15 points. 

Upcoming Games
Caldwell will participate in the Daniel Sullivan Tournament at Dominican College on Nov. 16-17 in Orangeburg, N.Y. The Cougars will face Queens College at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, and NYIT at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday.

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