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Queens swats away Hornets in pre-Thanksgiving victory

Queens forward A.J. McKee (5) puts home a basket in Wednesday's win over Lynchburg. (Photo: Brian Wilmer/House of College Hoops)

CHARLOTTE – There was no turkey – on the court, anyway – for Queens’ first Thanksgiving as a Division 1 basketball program.

Queens placed seven scorers in double figures and used a big first-half run to turn away visiting Lynchburg, notching a 107-72 victory Wednesday afternoon in Curry Arena.

“I was really excited about how we shared the ball,” Queens coach Grant Leonard said after the game, adding that he was thankful for family and fellowship this holiday season.

Lynchburg (1-4) battled Queens shot for shot early, sporting a shooting percentage north of 60 percent for much of the first half. Jordan Parham cut the Royals’ lead to three with a triple at the 12:29 mark of the half. Queens (5-1) quickly created separation from there, unfurling a 9-0 run that featured five points from forward Jay’Den Turner and compelled a timeout from Hornets coach Hilliary Scott.

The stoppage did little to stem the tide, as the Royals doubled that prior 10-point advantage on an Elijah Wyche bucket five minutes later. Miles Taylor canned the second of back-to-back Lynchburg jumpers to slice the Royal advantage to 16, but Queens responded with another 9-2 burst to take a 54-31 advantage to the interval.

Lynchburg cut the Queens advantage to 20 on two separate occasions but could advance no further. The Royals tore off a 19-9 burst that grew the advantage to 30. The Hornets continued to fight, though, undaunted by the deficit. Lynchburg and Queens were nearly equal in the second half before a closing 14-1 run by the Royals provided the final margin.

Two Royals set career highs among the seven in double figures. Guard Chris Ashby paced the Royals with 22 points, significantly bettering his career-best. Ashby dropped 7-of-12 from distance in the victory. Forward A.J. McKee contributed 16 on 4-for-7 shooting, with guard Kalib Mathews and forward Gavin Rains tossing in 14 apiece.

Turner and Kenny Dye tallied 11 each, with forward Elijah Wyche adding a career-high of 10 on a perfect 5-for-5 shooting night.

“The guys just told me to stick with it. I was off in the first couple of games,” Ashby said. “The guys told me to stick with it and keep shooting, and that’s what I did.”

Three Hornets contributed double-figure totals. Guard Jordan Parham led the Hornets with 15 points on 7-for-15 shooting. Landon Sutton poured in 12 and Cuddah Savage added 11 off the bench. Lynchburg connected on 41.2 percent (28-for-68) of its attempts, including 7-for-29 (24.1 percent) from three. The Hornets’ numbers from distance significantly increased in the second half, as Lynchburg hit 6-of-16 from downtown in the closing 20.

Both sides are off for the next two days to observe Thanksgiving, returning to play in the Commonwealth of Virginia Saturday afternoon. Lynchburg welcomes Eastern Mennonite to Turner Gym for an Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) tilt. Queens visits EagleBank Arena in Fairfax to take on George Mason. Both games are set for 2:00 (Eastern). The Queens-George Mason game will be streamed over ESPN+.


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