BOCA RATON, Fla. – Barry University remained unbeaten after beating Clayton State, 92-80, Friday in the Lynn Courtyard by Marriott Holiday Classic.
Freshman Adrian Gonzalez had a season-high 30 points on 11 of 15 field goals in a game the Buccaneers (8-0) never trailed.
“This was probably the toughest team we played all year,” said Gonzalez, who was 8-for-8 from the free throw line, and had three steals, three assists and five rebounds. “We came in mentally and physically prepared, and we came away with the W.”
The Buccaneers, who shot 56.7 percent from the floor, hitting 34 of 60 field goals, will play No. 13 Livingstone (7-1) at 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Saturday’s game will air on the Buccaneer Broadcast Network with Danny Rabinowitz handling the call and Jim McCurdy the color.
Barry fought off a 12-12 tie less than seven minutes into the game, building up a five-point lead on Savad Garner’s bucket with 11:52 to play in the opening half. Charles Shedrick’s three-pointer cut the Bucs’ lead to two, but Barry outscored Clayton State, 28-17, over the final 11-and-a-half minutes to take a 13-point lead into the break.
Gonzalez, who along with Bucs point guard Deric Hill both came up with back-to-back steals that led to transition buckets just inside the 10:00 mark of the first half, matched his season-best 11 field goal performance that he had against Puerto Rico Mayaguez. The 11 field goals are the most by a freshman in school history. His five rebounds all came on the offensive glass.
“Once I got that steal and fastbreak, I felt like I had it going a little bit,” said Gonzalez, whose transition bucket gave Barry an eight-point lead. “It felt good.”
The Lakers, who shot 61.9 percent in the first half, trimmed a 25-point lead with 4:51 to play following a free throw by Magne Fivelstad, down to 12 inside the last minute. Fivelstad shot 6 of 9 from the field, finishing with 14 points.
Garner had his second double-double of the season, scoring 11 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Yunio Barrueta, who was 3 of 4 from beyond the three-point arc, had 13 points. Matt Gamberoni had six points on 3 of 4 shooting.
Both teams had to wait out an hour-long delay after the officials were late arriving.
“That just killed our mood,” Gonzalez said. “We went back in the locker room, and coach gave a great speech that motivated us.”
Barry shot 62.5 percent from the field in the opening half. The Buccaneers were 17 of 19 from the free throw line. Shedrick and Craig Wong each scored 22 points, and Omari Murray had 17 for the Lakers.
The Bucs were a little inspired by a mid-day pep talk on life from NCAA Division I defending national champ coach Rick Pitino in Barry’s locker room earlier Friday.
“That got us going,” Gonzalez said. “He talked about positivity.”
For the most part, despite surrendering a big lead, the Bucs put together a positive effort to notch their eighth win of the year. But the tests keep coming with no time to rest. Livingstone beat Lynn in Friday’s second game of the Fighting Knights’ tournament, 87-78 in overtime. The Blue Bears lost their only game earlier this week to the defending NCAA Division II national champ Drury by a point in South Florida.
“We’re just gonna have to fight through it,” Gonzalez said. “We just need to come in ready to play and try to get the W.”