Jeffrey Hayden, Domonic Josephs produce double-doubles as men's basketball wins season opener

Domonic Josephs had a team-high 26 points.
Domonic Josephs had a team-high 26 points.

NEWARK, Del. — Coach Kevin Hamilton's second season at the helm of NYIT men's basketball got off to a stellar start.

The Bears defeated host Wilmington (Del.), 81-76, in the season-opening CACC/ECC Challenge on Friday night.

Junior forward Jeffrey Hayden sank his first 10 field goals en route to a double-double with 26 points and 13 rebounds. Teammate Domonic Josephs also contributed his first career double-double, tallying 16 points and a career-high 19 rebounds.

NYIT took a 78-69 lead with 3 minutes, 27 seconds remaining when Hayden sank a pair of free throws. The Wildcats whittled the lead to two points in the final minute, but NYIT held on as Hayden made it 80-76 with a lay-in with 24 seconds to go.

"What I liked about it is we didn't play very well and still came out with a victory," Hamilton said. "We have a number of things to improve upon, but their leadership and their performance, along with other guys, really helped us to the victory."

The Bears had trailed by as many as eight points in the first half before answering with an 11-0 run to take a 29-26 lead. During the spurt, Laurynas Stonkus came off the bench to nail a go-ahead three-pointer — his first collegiate points. The Bears then opened the three-point lead when Hayden collected the offensive rebound of Kieran Hamilton's missed three-point attempt and laid the ball in, prompting Wilmington to call timeout with 4:43 remaining in the first half.

NYIT might have had an easier time, but went 17-for-36 from the free-throw line.

"We shoot every day, and we just didn't come out strong today," Josephs said. "But we're going to come back next game."

The Bears remain in Newark, Del., for the second game of the CACC/ECC Challenge on Saturday at 6 p.m. against USciences. The Devils topped LIU Post, 63-54, in Friday's opener at the WU Athletics Complex.