Wayne, NJ – Junior Erick Loften-Harris hit three free throws in the final 41 seconds as Montclair State rallied back from 15 points down in the second half, slipping past William Paterson, 76-74 at the WPU Rec Center on Wednesday evening.
Junior Brandon Channer registered his xx double-double of the year with 24 points along with 11 rebounds as the Red Hawks moved into the final position for the time being in the NJAC Tournament race. MSU, which snapped a three-game losing streak, improved to 10-11 overall but more importantly 6-8 in the NJAC. The Red Hawks are a game ahead of the Pioneers and Rowan (5-9).
Montclair also snapped a three-game skid against WPU and won for just the second time in the last nine meetings. The Red Hawks also avenged a 78-74 loss earlier this season and lead the all-time series between the local rivals 97-73.
Bright Mensah scored a game-high 31 points for William Paterson, which fell to 10-11 overall.
William Paterson led 41-34 at halftime and maintained the lead throughout widening the advantage to 71-56 with 6:25 to play after Richy Espinal hit two free throws. MSU began to cut into the deficit with a six-point burst and pulled within 72-71 as Loften-Harris hit twice from the charity stripe with 1:55 to go.
Espinal added two more from the line but a Loften-Harris layup made it a one-point game again, 74-73 with 1:16 to play. The Pioneers turned the ball over on their next possession and Loften-Harris was fouled. He would make both giving the Red Hawks the lead at 75-74 with 41 ticks showing. MSU would get a chance to extend the lead with 29 seconds as WPU was assessed a technical foul following a turnover. However Montclair could not capitalize missing both attempts and then turning the ball over as the margin stayed at a point with 19 seconds.
Following a timeout, Mensah missed a jumper with 13 seconds left. Loften-Harris corralled the rebound and was fouled. He made the first to put MSU in front by two but missed the season. Terik Bridgeman got the rebounds for William Paterson giving the hosts one last chance, which it nearly took advantage of as Mensah launched a potential game-winning three-pointer with four seconds. But the shot went off the mark with Jarrett Bogus securing the rebound and the win for Montclair.
Loften-Harris finished with 16 points, six rebounds and five assists for MSU, which got 22 points and five rebounds off the bench from junior Shaun Russell. Brian Crosby pulled down six boards for the Red Hawks.
Montclair State is back home on Saturday, February 6 hosting Rutgers-Camden at 1:00 pm.