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Serge leads St. Ray’s over University

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Forget Red Bull, its Oliver Antigua who gives the St. Raymond Ravens wings.

After losing to Xaverian by 19 Friday night in Brooklyn, St. Ray’s was down by five at the half against University (N.J.) Saturday morning after a lackluster first half. In desperate need of a jolt, the Ravens got one from the eighth-year coach.

“I challenged their manhood,” Antigua said.

The Ravens responded, rallying to beat the Phoenix, 61-52, at the Prudential Center in the second annual Newark National Invitational.

“He gave us a real good talk that we had to step up because they were coming stronger than us,” Daniel Dingle said. “We came out with a lot of energy.”

Sophomore forward Kerwin Okoro, in particular, took the challenge personally.

“That’s my character,” Okoro said. “I’m a tough person so if someone says I’m not tough, I take that to heart. I’ve got to prove them wrong.”

Okoro and his teammates did that in the second half, befuddling University (13-3) with a 1-3-1 zone. They also went on a 14-0 run in the third quarter capped by a one-handed Okoro dunk to take control.

“That 1-3-1 was a killer,” said Okoro, who had 18 points and five rebounds. “Everyone was being disciplined, moving to the spots they had to be in, moving our feet and getting our hands in the lanes and getting deflections. We just played solid defense.”

Dingle led the way for St. Raymond’s (7-8) with 21 points and six boards. The 6-foot-6 forward said beating University was important because he and his teammates were reminded about the Xaverian loss the entire trip to Newark.

“Coach kept talking about it and talking about it,” Dingle said. “We just wanted to shut him up basically.”

Because of his team’s youth, Antigua has come to expect, although not accept, wild inconsistencies from his squad. Beating a Newark team on the road is big, but there was still plenty for Antigua to complain about.

“We had 23 turnovers and [gave them] 17 offensive rebounds – that’s 40 more possessions we gave them that we shouldn’t have,” he said. “Forty! It’s unbelievable. I can’t even understand it, and we won the game.”

Jatton Pierce-Bias had 10 points and five steals and Devin Brooks added six points and a team-high 11 rebounds for St. Raymond, which heads to Allentown, Pa., Sunday to take on Germantown Academy (Pa.) at the Hoop Group Lehigh Valley Showcase.

It’s a brutal stretch of three games in three days, but one that has been made more manageable after a big win Saturday morning.

“It would have been an even bigger load to carry on our backs, like we have no choice but to win that game,” Okoro said. “Now we’re coming into this next game with a ‘W’ under our belt.”

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