After dropping the first-round match-up in the 2013 National Invitational Tournament Season Tip-Off 66-63 to the Rhode Island Rams on Monday, the Metro State Roadrunners rebounded to take the West-Consolation game against the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights, 87-76, behind Mitch McCarron’s career high 34 points.
Leading by 10 at the half on Monday against URI, Metro State was outscored 21-5 out of the gate in the second half en route to the 66-63 loss. The Roadrunners answered back to tie the game at 57-57 with 4:47 left after a free throw by McCarron. The Rams made 5-of-6 free throws in the final 36 seconds to pull away.
While Mitch McCarron’s double-double (19 points, 12 rebounds) wasn’t enough against the Rams on Monday, McCarron came out and made sure he gave an effort that would lead his Roadrunners to a victory, and boy did he.
McCarron scored a career-high 34 points to lead his Roadrunners to a 87-76 victory over the Division 1 Fairleigh Dickinson Knights, and he stayed humble in doing so. “My teammates did a great job getting me the ball,” said McCarron. “I knocked down the shots, but it was really them who were setting me up.”
His back-court teammate, Brandon Jefferson, was pretty hot as well. With 9 points at the half, “BJ” finished with 28 points on the evening and finished a perfect 11-11 from the charity stripe. BJ and McCarron combined for 30 points on Monday against URI, nearly double that for 62 points on Tuesday against Fairleigh Dickinson.
A big key to the Roadrunners success on Tuesday was their effort on the glass. After being out-rebounded 42-to-27 on Monday against the Rams, Metro State had a 35-to-17 advantage against the Knights. 10 of which came on the hands of McCarron. “Our guards rebounded well,” said Coach Derrick Clark. “The difference is always going to be the guards as long as our bigs are doing their job. I thought our guards went in and chased down a lot of rebounds.”
Making things easy for the guards is the play of Metro’s front-line. New Aussies Will Sinclair and Harrison Goodrick did a good job of providing the squad with extra possessions in the paint. “They’ve been really good,” said McCarron. “They did a really good job last night against a good rebounding team and tonight they backed it up. Rebounding is an emphasis for us. We got out-rebounded last night but we bounced back today and did a good job.”
While tonight’s victory over Fairleigh Dickinson nor last night’s loss to Rhode Island will count in the win-loss column as all NIT games are exhibition for the Roadrunners, Coach Clark still loves what he sees. “We came out defensively and got a lot of stops,” said Clark. “When we get stops we’re pretty good in transition and getting to the basket. It doesn’t hurt that Mitch McCarron got 34 points and 10 rebounds. Brandon Jefferson and the rest of our guards played pretty well.”
Metro State will be playing their next two NIT Season Tip-Off games at the highest remaining seed next week. Junior Guard Mitch McCarron likes how they’re leaving Tucson. “It’s a big win for us,” said McCarron. “In the loss last night we were proud of each other for playing hard and it feels good to come out here and get the win today.”