Royster career day leads way in big win

Cameron Royster (c) 2013 David Sinclair/McDaniel College
Cameron Royster (c) 2013 David Sinclair/McDaniel College

LANCASTER, Pa. – McDaniel built a 14-point lead late in the first half and held a double-digit advantage for most of the second half, picking up a key Centennial Conference (CC) men's basketball victory at Franklin & Marshall 67-56 on Saturday.

Andrew Merlo (Rehoboth, Del./Cape Henlopen) reached double figures for the fifth straight game, leading the Green Terror (11-4, 6-2 CC) with 18 points. Cameron Royster (Derwood, Md./Magruder) added career highs of 13 points and nine rebounds off the bench while Wesley Brooks (North Wales, Pa./North Penn) added 13 points.

Matt Porter netted 19 points to lead the Diplomats (10-5, 6-2 CC), who had their eight-game winning streak snapped in their first home loss to McDaniel since 2007 and just second since 1984.

For just the fourth time in 15 games this season, the Green Terror netted the game's first points when Tim Stewart (Smyrna, Del./Smyrna) hit a layup 39 seconds into the game. McDaniel did not trail the rest of the way.

Three free throws from Brooks pushed the lead to 8-2 with 14:44 to play in the first half.

A Devin Figueroa 3-pointer closed the deficit to 14-9 with 12:13 showing but Merlo hit a third-chance jumper 18 seconds later to start an 8-1 run.

Duane Echols (Jessup, Md./Hammond) and Brooks each hit triples to cap the burst and stretch the lead to 22-10 with 8:47 showing.

A Jon Salandra layup pulled the hosts within 24-18 with 5:22 on the clock but McDaniel reeled off nine of the game's next 10 points to take a 33-19 lead when Royster hit a layup on the break with 2:31 showing.

Nick Perugino (Lewes, Del./Salesianum) hit a trey just before the first half ended to make it a 36-23 game at the break.

Five straight Diplomats points trimmed the margin to 38-33 but a Royster layup and Merlo triple keyed a 9-0 run that put the Green Terror back in control.

Franklin & Marshall got no closer than seven over the final 9:23 of the game.

Evan Pupelis (Manhasset, N.Y./Manhasset) led the way on the glass with 10 rebounds as part of a decisive 37-24 advantage on the boards.

McDaniel, which forged a tie with the Diplomats for second place in the CC standings, returns to action at Gettysburg on Wednesday. Game time is 8 p.m.