BRIDGEWATER, NJ -- East Brunswick established its ability to attack both in the paint and from the perimeter early in the game, built an eight-point lead before the end of the first quarter and went on to defeat Bridgewater-Raritan, 65-48, Saturday afternoon.
Guards Rico Gomez and Jackson Bayuk each scored 16 points, center Devin Kennedy scored 12 points and freshman forward Jalen Pichardo had 11 points for East Brunswick, which started strong and finished strong. The Bears (10-9), who had scored the first seven points of the game, closed it out with an 18-8 run.
Sophomore forward Joey Callari scored 16 points for the Panthers, who opened the fourth quarter with a 7-2 spurt capped by a 3-pointer by Zach Letts with 5:45 left to bring Bridgewater-Raritan (4-17) to within seven points at 47-40. East Brunswick outscored them, 18-8, the rest of the way.
Early in the game, East Brunswick showed the ability to strike from different areas of the floor, making the Bears tough for Bridgewater to defend. Kennedy began the game by scoring underneath, Bayuk hit a 3-pointer with an assist from Jalen Pichardo, and Kennedy dropped in a mid-range jumper for a 7-0 lead less that three minutes in.
Alec Whelan, who finished with eight points, turned a layup into a 3-point play Bridgewater's first points, but East Brunswick's offensive efficiency combined with its ability to force turnovers in its halfcourt zone prevented the Panthers from gathering any momentum early in the contest.
Kennedy and Pichardo were scoring inside, opening up the perimeter for Bayuk, who hit three of his 3-pointers in the opening half, and Desola Awoyode, who also canned a trey that boosted the Bears' lead to 30-17 with 1:10 left in the first half.
Only Bridgewater-Raritan's perfect performance at the foul line, where the Panthers were nine-for-nine in the first half, kept things for being worse for coach Gene McAteer's team in the first half.