Montclair, NJ – Junior guard Erick Loften-Harris scored 11 of his 17 points in the second half as Montclair State upended NJAC leader New Jersey City University, 72-71 at the Panzer Athletic Center on Saturday afternoon.
Junior guard Shaun Russell added 13 points as the Red Hawks (7-8, 4-5 NJAC) held off the Gothic Knights for their first win against NJCU in three-plus years. MSU snapped a five-game losing streak posting its first win since December 12, 2012 in the 58-48 win at home.
Yuri Brutus had 15 points in a reserve role for the Gothic knights (9-6, 7-2 NJAC), which has alternated wins and losses in its last four contests.
A rough-shooting first half for both teams, Montclair State led most of the way until Chinwe Wosu put NJCU in front 23-21 with 5:44 left. Two free throws by Tyler Caldwell extended the lead to four points before Montclair closed out the half with 9-5 run for a 30-28 lead on a Loften-Harris floater in the lane with 24 seconds remaining.
James Frazier's three-pointer early in the second half put NJCU back in front and the Gothic Knights would maintain that advantage and got out to a 54-47 lead near the midpoint of the half on a string of free throws, the last by Andrew Tomlin.
The Red Hawks battled back and tied the game with 5:43 to play as Russell hit two free throws. After Montclair moved ahead by three, Brutus tied the game for the 10th time at 63-63 on a layup with 1:57 left. Loften-Harris connected from the line twice 11 seconds later however that was matched by Ata Robinson who put in a layup with 90 seconds.
MSU had chance to move back in front from the line but Russell misfired on his two attempts. Fortunately for the Red Hawks, Brian Crosby grabbed the offensive rebound on the second miss and converted a three-point play with 59 seconds to go making the score 68-65. Brandon Channer widened the lead to 70-65 on two foul shots with 34 seconds and a make by Aaron Williams gave Montclair a six-point advantage.
Jalen Harris would cut the deficit in half with 13 seconds on a basket and free throw as NJCU pulled within 71-68. Channer was fouled with 11 seconds left and made the second of his two free throws. Tomlin made things real interesting banking in a three-pointer from straight away with four ticks for a 72-71 MSU lead.
Loften-Harris was fouled before the inbounds however he missed both free throws leaving he margin at one point. Following a timeout, the Gothic Knights tried a long court pass that was intercepted by Montclair but a traveling violation was called giving NJCU one final chance in the front court.
Off the inbounds pass, the ball got away from Harris, who scrambled to pick the loose ball and fired a 30-footer from the top that banged off the backboard.
Channer finished with 11 points and six rebounds for MSU, which shot 52 percent (13-of-25) over the final 20 minutes of the contest. Crosby had seven points and six boards with Daniel Rodriguez added six points and five rebounds in a reserve role.
Harris and Wosu had 13 points apiece for the Gothic Knights. Khalid Muhammad chipped in with seven points and six rebounds.
Montclair State is back on the court on Monday, January 18 as it travels to Maryland to face Washington College at 1:00 pm. The contest is a reschedule from a November postponement.