Guarino Scores Career-Best 26 Points in NJIT’s 79-71 Win Over Western Carolina

Guarino Scores Career-Best 26 Points in NJIT’s 79-71 Win Over Western Carolina

NEWARK, NJ—Graduate student Kelly Guarino scored a career-best 26 points and head coach Mike Lane registered his first win as a Division I head coach in NJIT's 79-71 victory over Western Carolina in the NJIT Thanksgiving Classic Saturday afternoon at the Wellness and Events Center.

NJIT (1-5) snaps a five-game skid in the win while Western Carolina drops to 1-6 on the young season. 

The Catamounts will return to action on Sunday at 12pm against North Alabama, who picked up an 80-67 victory Saturday evening against Southeast Missouri.  NJIT will tipoff against Southeast Missouri at 2pm on ESPN+ to conclude the Thanksgiving Classic.

NJIT's Guarino finished the game 7-of-12 from the field, 6-for-11 from behind the three-point arc and a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line.  The six three-pointers is one shy the graduate students career-mark.

This season, Guarino has scored in double-figures in four of the Highlanders six games, including two 20-point performances.

Junior forward Danielle Tunstall turned in another strong performance, netting 15 points and grabbing seven rebounds while Tatianna Torres and Ellyn Stoll each added 11 points in the win for the Highlanders.

Sophomore forward Dez Allen came off the bench and scored nine points while Milena Bajic, a transfer from Memphis, filled up the box score, grabbing a team-best 11 rebounds, dished out a game-high six assists and added two blocks.

NJIT's 79 points against Western Carolina are the most scored this season, which also included a season-best 11 three-pointers made.

Western Carolina was led by freshman Gabby Smith, who posted her second consecutive double-double with a team-high 21 points and game-high 11 rebounds.  Guards

Angel Allen and Judith Martin Ruiz scored 13 and 10 point respectively for the Catamounts.

Leading 37-33 at the half, the Highlanders outscored the Catamounts in the third quarter, 18-11, to pull just far enough away in a tight game and push ahead by 10, 55-44.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Western Carolina inched its way back into the game, slimming the Highlander lead to within three, 62-59, after a 6-2 run, sparked by an old-fashion three-point play by Smith.

NJIT used an 8-2 spurt, thanks to a pair of free throws by Guarino at the 4:13 mark and a three-pointer two minutes later, extending the Highlander lead to eight, 71-63. 

The Highlanders scored the final seven points from the free throw line and held on to a 79-71 victory.