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.
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.
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.
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.
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.