Photo: Courtesy Jason Evans
After an uneven first half that ended 27-27, Denver graduate transfer Ronnie Harrell, Jr. and sharp-shooting freshman Jase Townsend led Denver with 18 and 16 points respectively for the night to pull away from the Maine Black Bears. DU had 29 points off the bench as the coaching staff substituted liberally during the contest, playing all five new freshmen in the game. Denver out-shot Maine 42% to 31% but was out-rebounded 40-37 for the night and was doubled up, 14-7, on the offensive boards.
The first half was tight with both teams showing opening night jitters. The teams played within 4 points or less of each other during most of the first half. Freshman Jase Townsend made a lay-up in the paint to give Denver a 25-18 lead with 3:56 left in the half. But, Maine responded with two buckets and a 3-point shot by Isaiah White to close the gap to one. The teams traded free throws, capped by a Maine charity stripe miss, to end the half knotted at 27 points each.
The first five minutes of the second half featured a pair of Ronnie Harrell, Jr. trips to the line and a bucket to give Denver a 6-point lead. Maine narrowed the lead again to one point on a 3-point shot by Terion Moss to make it 39-38 Denver – and then, Denver took control. Two three-point bombs from freshman Jase Townsend gave Denver some breathing room. That was followed by a buckets by freshman Alperin Karnaz, sophomore Donoven Carlisle and senior Joe Rosga to give Denver an 11 point lead with 7:20 remaining in the contest. A fade-away 3-point shot by Elvin Rodriguez made it 58-43 at 4:44 and gave the Pioneers a comfortable margin. Jake Krafka followed with a 3-point shot to give DU a 16-point lead with 2:44 remaining to finish off the visitors. DU then emptied their bench and eased their way to a 62-50 victory.
The good news for Denver was 26 points from the freshman class in the contest. And, Ronnie Harrell, Jr. with 18 points and 13 rebounds looks to be a great addition to this years squad. Jase Townsend, billed as a great shooter out of Dallas, proved that his reputation was an accurate one – at least for this contest. Taelyr Gatlin also looks to be a solid ball handler and will provide depth in the back court. In a further sign of team depth, Denver only needed 7 points from Joe Rosga for the night. The only area of concern was rebounding, especially on the offensive boards.
DU is back in action Monday night when they travel to Manhattan, Kansas to play the K-State Wildcats (#12/Associated Press) at Bramladge Coliseum.
Game Note: CU graduate transfer center Tory Miller-Stewart will be sitting out DU’s first 3-4 games recovering from a wrist injury.