College Basketball

Queens tops Coker 78-53 in men’s basketball

There’s nothing lucky about Queens’ seven-game win streak.

The Royals improved to 8-5 (5-2 South Atlantic Conference) with a 78-53 win against Coker on Wednesday at Curry Arena. After stumbling to a 1-5 start that included a 72-68 loss at Coker, Queens is playing with confidence and purpose.

“Throughout our winning streak we’ve been concentrating on our defensive effort,” said guard Rob Lewis, who led the Royals with 23 points with 7-of-11 shooting, four assists and four rebounds. “That’s what the biggest difference is this time around.

“Obviously when you win, confidence comes, but we’ve been focusing more on defense and that’s been bringing us wins.”

Queens leaned on defense against Coker (4-6, 3-3), limiting the Cobras to 31.3 percent shooting (15-of-48) from the floor, including 29.6 percent in the first half.

The Royals, who never trailed, blew the game open in the second half by hitting a trio of 3-pointers in as many possessions to extend a 39-28 halftime lead to 48-30. Queens also flexed its muscle in around the basket, outscoring Coker 41-18 in the paint.

“They really played together, they played hard,” Queens coach Bart Lundy said. “Defensively, we were good all night, shared the ball. The guards made big shots; Sean (Morgan) was a horse inside. We’re getting better every day and I’m proud of their work ethic.”

Morgan had 16 points, and Marquis Rankin added 10 for Queens. Errick Bethel paced Coker with 14 points, followed by Aubrey Daniel’s 10.

Queens opened with blazing accuracy, connecting on 60 percent (15-of-25) of its first-half shots. Lewis and Morgan led the way with 13 and 12 points, respectively, before halftime.

Coker struggled to find its range, going 8-of-27 (29.6 percent), but the Cobras, powered by Bethel’s 12 points, managed to stay in contention by hitting 11 of 15 free throws compared to 7-of-8 for the Royals.