NEWARK – Brett Bounds came out firing and never let up.
The Morris sophomore guard drained a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter and added three more to open the second half to finish with five 3s and a game-high 19 points, which helped pace Morris to a 60-45 nonconference victory Monday over Newark.
“I just credit my teammates for moving without the ball and giving me great looks,” Bounds said. “We came out of the gates hot, never looked back and kept it rolling from there.”
Bounds received some fine help from classmate Jack Wheeler, who scored 18 points. Seniors Gage Phillips and Ashton Yard totaled 10 and eight points, respectively, as Morris (8-16) won its third game in its past four while shooting 24 of 54 (44%).
“We’re a young team, and we got a late start after the football season, and I thought it’d be January before we hit our stride,” Morris coach Joe Blumberg said. “They’ve never caved or packed it in, and tonight I’m really proud of our guys for a solid win over a tough Newark team, where Brett (Bounds) proved he’s really dangerous when he can hit some 3-pointers.”
Newark (11-10) saw a team-best 18 points from senior Joe Martin. Senior Jake Kruser added 14 points, and senior Zach Carlson had nine points along with a game-high nine rebounds.
The Norsemen committed 20 turnovers but never gave up down the stretch. They connected on 18 of 46 (40%) shots.
“I was really disappointed the way we came out in the second half but was proud of the way we responded after that,” Newark coach Kyle Anderson said. “Morris is way better than their record shows. They’re playing very well right now, and their sophomore [Bounds] is a nice shooter that put it to us tonight.”
Bounds hit two free throws at 3:55 of the first quarter and then dialed in his first two 3s at 3:00 and 1:15 to give Morris a 14-9 lead after eight minutes.
“I wanted to come out strong in the great atmosphere here in Newark’s packed gym,” Bounds said. “We got off fast and kept it going.”
Wheeler took over in the second quarter. After not scoring a point in the first, he tallied nine, including a right-baseline 3 at the 3:00 mark and a basket a minute later that sparked a 17-7 Morris rally to give the visitors a 31-16 lead at halftime.
“I feel like it was a much tighter game than it should’ve been so I wanted to pick things up for my team,” Wheeler said. “I was able to get some quality shots from the help of my teammates and we went into halftime with good momentum.”
Bounds caught fire after the break, nailing his next three shots all beyond the 3-point line with a left-baseline triple at 7:40, a top-of-the-key shot at 7:10 and a right-baseline 3 at 3:40 to give Morris its largest lead at 43-24.
“I have to credit my guys right there again for getting me good looks and I was really feeling it in the third quarter,” Bounds said. “But Newark really fought back hard and we knew the game wasn’t over.”
Kruser tallied the next seven points of the contest that spanned the third and fourth quarters with Newark owning a 9-0 run that cut the gap to 43-33 as Carlson scored off a steal with 6:45 to go.
But Morris would build its lead back up to 57-41 with after Wheeler’s basket in the lane with two minutes to go, which emptied the benches as Morris closed out the game in style.