WAYNE, N.J. – The William Paterson men's basketball team (10-11, 5-9 NJAC) couldn't sustain its late lead, suffering a 76-74 loss against visiting Montclair State (10-11, 6-8 NJAC) Feb. 3.
The Pioneers owned a 72-62 advantage with 4:02 remaining, but the Red Hawks began to chip away, going 5-for-6 from the free-throw line and adding a layup to make it a 72-69 score at the 2:42 mark. Junior guard Erick Loften-Harris sank two more free throws (72-71, 1:55) before junior forward Richy Espinal (Ridgefield Park, N.J./Ridgefield Park) answered with two free throws of his own, pushing WP ahead by a 74-71 count with 1:29 left.
Another Loften-Harris layup 13 seconds later and a Pioneer turnover led to a 2-for-2 effort from the stripe by Loften-Harris, giving Montclair State its first lead since the 4:51 mark of the first half, 75-74 with 41.9 seconds to play. WP was whistled for an offensive foul with 29.3 ticks left, but after a Red Hawk turnover the Pioneers had another chance. A miss was rebounded by Loften-Harris, who was fouled and sank the first of two from the line (76-74, 11.4). A final William Paterson miss from beyond the arc was rebounded by MSU to end the game.
Senior guard Bright Mensah (Hackensack, N.J./Hackensack) led all scorers with 31 points. Espinal contributed 10 tallies and a game-best 12 rebounds, while junior guard Zach Frick (Sparta, N.J./Sparta) added 12 points.
The Red Hawks controlled the early moments of the game, building an 18-7 advantage by the 12:14 mark, but the Pioneers caught fire from beyond the arc, knocking down nine of 14 (.643) attempts down the stretch to seize a 41-34 halftime lead.
When Montclair State closed to within three midway through the second half, WP responded with a 12-0 run for its largest lead of the night, 71-56 with 6:25 to play.
Junior forward Brandon Channer led MSU with 24 points, 11 rebounds and four steals. Junior guard Shaun Russell had 22 tallies off the bench, and Loften-Harris added 16 points and five assists.
William Paterson will visit Rutgers-Newark Saturday, Feb. 6, at 8:00 p.m.