There is nothing lucky about Queens’ hot start.
The Royals ran their record to 6-0 with an 87-77 nonconference win against J.C. Smith on Tuesday at Curry Arena by playing with balance on both ends of the floor. Queens, ranked 21st in Division II, placed five players in double figures, led by forward Sean Morgan’s 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting. Working primarily around the basket, the 6-6, 265-pound Morgan hit his first five shots to soften the Golden Bulls’ interior defense for Queens’ perimeter shooters.
“He’s really come on and bought into the system,” Royals coach Bart Lundy said. “He’s gotten his body right, changed his diet, changed his outlook and energy. He’s a horse.”
Morgan had help, with Rob Lewis adding 17 points on 6-of-18 shooting. Kendall Jones added 14 while Todd Withers and Marquis Rankin pumped in 13 and 10, respectively.
J.C. Smith (4-4), which has lost three straight, was paced by center Alandre Davis’ 23 points on 10-of-14 shooting and 14 rebounds. Stedmon Lemon chipped in 21 points on 5-of-9 shooting for the Golden Bulls, who connected on 42.6 percent of their shots, including 40 percent in the second half.
Morgan connected on all five shots in the first half for 12 points to spark Queens to a 42-37 halftime bulge, but the Royals, who hit 47.1 percent (16-of-34) of their shots compared with 45.2 (14-of-31) for J.C. Smith, struggled to contain the 6-9 Davis, who had his way in the paint.
“He’s been really focused,” Lundy said of Morgan. “But we had trouble with their big boy, too.”
Queens never trailed in the second half but couldn’t shake J.C. Smith until a 12-6 spurt pushed the Royals to an 81-67 advantage with 4:15 left. The Royals’ ball movement opened opportunities for easy shots while the Golden Bulls struggled to keep pace.
“We couldn’t sustain,” J.C. Smith coach Steve Joyner said. “We showed flashes of understanding what we need to do, but we couldn’t sustain. I thought that was what was key for Queens tonight. They were as consistent in the first half as they were in the second half.”
Lemon paced the Golden Bulls in the first half with 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting and Davis canned all five of his shots for 10 points.
Queens made liberal use of the three-point arc, hitting 7-of-17 tries, including five makes on its final six possessions. Jones hit 3-of-5 shots from distance and Lewis drained a pair on the Royals’ final pair of possessions to push their lead to five points.