GALLOWAY, N.J. (NJCUGothicKnights.com) | On January 7, theNew Jersey City University men's basketball was a mere 2.4 seconds from upsetting a nationally-ranked Richard Stockton College squad. A month later, a much better Gothic Knight club completed the job and took an important step to an improbable post-season appearance in the process. NJCU used a smothering press defense to frustrate No. 19 ranked Stockton, holding off the Ospreys late in a crucial 70-65 wire-to-wire New Jersey Athletic Conference road upset on February 11 at the Stockton Sports Center.
After opening the season just 3-10 overall and 1-6 in the NJAC, the resurgent Gothic Knights are again peaking in the second half of the season, improving to 10-12 overall and 8-8 in the NJAC by winning for the seventh time in nine games. Stockton, which had won six of its last eight games coming in, falls to 18-5 and 12-4 in the NJAC.
It was NJCU's first win over a ranked opponent since a 60-50 road win over New York University on December 3, 2012 and the Knights' first win over a ranked NJAC foe since an 81-69 decision over then No. 22 Ramapo in Jersey City on February 12, 2011. Additionally, it was the first road win over a ranked conference opponent since also knocking off Stockton by five, then ranked No. 8, 76-71 on December 5, 2009.
The win was key for NJCU which now owns sole possession of sixth place in the NJAC standings with two conference games remaining against schools—Montclair State University and Rutgers University-Camden—whom the Knights have already beaten once this season. NJCU is a full game in front of Ramapo (7-9) for the final berth in the 6-team NJAC Tournament, and picks up an important tiebreaker as both the Knights and the Roadrunners have defeated second-place Stockton this season.
Furthermore, NJCU is one game behind Rowan University, Rutgers University-Newark and The College of New Jersey—all 9-7 in the league standings. NJCU, which split the season series with Rowan and TCNJ, but lost twice to Rutgers-Newark, can still finish anywhere from third to seventh when the regular season ends next Wednesday.
NJCU outscored Stockton 28-12 in the paint and closed the first half on a 9-2 run to seize a 41-29 advantage at halftime. The Knights were able to keep Stockton at bay throughout the second half with the hosts getting no closer than four, including 54-50 with 7:31 remaining. But a jumper by senior shooting guard Jamall McDaniel (Jersey City, NJ/Lincoln)with 6:58 to play, another jumper by reigning NJAC Player of the Week and senior small forward Neville Joseph(Newark, NJ/West Side) with 6:06 left, and a transition layup by McDaniel with 5:38 to go pushed the lead back to 10 (60-50).
Still up five (60-55) with 3:21 to go after Stockton's Armin Cane hit a jumper for his 24th point of the night, senior point guard Jourdan Roberson (Brooklyn, NY/University (Newark)) remained on pace to graduate as NJCU's leading career free throw shooter (89-105, .848) by knocking down two from the line with 3:04 on the board and after Stockton committed yet another turnover, Roberson found Joseph for a dagger three pointer with 1:51 left as the Gothic Knight lead swelled back to double digits, 65-55.
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