Men's Basketball Wins Fifth Straight

Jersey City, NJ (2/4/09) - Montclair State University owned a 19-7 advantage on the offensive glass, scoring 20 second-chance points with a nearly 3-to-1 margin in points in the paint, 34-12, as the Red Hawks rallied from an eight-point first half deficit and defeated host New Jersey City University, 71-60, in a New Jersey Athletic Conference North Division game on Wednesday night on Charlie Brown Court at the John J. Moore Athletics and Fitness Center.

Montclair (16-5, 8-2 NJAC) now has a 1.5 game lead over William Paterson University for first place in the NJAC North Division. NJCU suffers its third straight loss to fall to 8-13 overall and 3-7 in the NJAC. MSU leads the all-time series, 85-64 (only known results included).

With the loss, NJCU cannot finish .500 this year and will suffer its first losing season since going 11-14 in 1969-70, a string of 38 consecutive years. Its streak of consecutive winning seasons is also snapped since last finishing 13-13 in 1974-75, a span of 33 straight seasons. Both were the second longest active streaks in Division III; the 33 straight winning seasons were the second longest in Division III history. NJCU also will have its streak of 26 straight years in a post-season tournament end.

NJCU lost despite having two players reach 20 points. Freshman small forward Rashawn Smalls (Jersey City, NJ/Dickinson), a six-time NJAC Rookie of the Week and one-time NJAC Player of the Week, poured in his sixth 20-point game of the year, finishing with a game-best 21 points with seven rebounds. He shot 4-of-8 from three-point range but 6-of-15 overall from the floor.Junior point guard Josh Lopez (Jersey City, NJ/St. Mary’s (Jersey City)), this week’s NJAC Player of the Week, added 20 points (6-12 FG), making four threes (4-10). It was his fourth career 20-point performance and third of the year

While MSU didn’t have a player score more than 16, the Red Hawks did see two register double-doubles. Sophomore guard James Williams (Englewood, NJ/Dwight Morrow), last year’s NJAC Rookie of the Year, scored a team-high 16 points (5-12 FG) with four assists in a full 40 minutes.Senior forward Richard Brown (Newark, NJ/Newark Tech) had a double-double of 11 points (4-8 FG) and 10 rebounds while sophomore center Jon Georges (West Orange, NJ/St. Peter’s Prep) added 10 points and 10 rebounds. Junior guard Ken Dudley (Willingboro, NJ/Burlington Tech) finished with nine points.

The Knights never trailed in the first half, hitting seven of their 11 threes in the period. A Wells three with 9:53 left in the first half gave NJCU a 20-12 lead, its largest margin of the game, as MSU was held scoreless for a span of 3:05. MSU drew within three twice, before five Lopez points, including a triple with 6:12 left, again made it an eight-point lead, 27-19.

But MSU outscored NJCU 9-2 to finish the period and a Williams jumper with 1:35 left made it a one-point game at the break, 29-28.

Sophomore guard Tom Bonard (Westfield, NJ/Westfield) put MSU ahead with a three in the opening seconds of the second half. Lopez took the lead back with a three at 16:54 and NJCU grasped a 37-36 cushion with the clubs trading several leads, before Montclair scored the next nine points and never trailed again. Georges and Brown combined for seven of the nine.

NJCU cut it to three after Smalls scored five straight points, including a three-pointer with 10:48 left, 45-42.

But again, the Red Hawks responded, scoring eight straight. Williams made a three with 9:42 left for a 50-42 edge and with 7:47 on the clock, freshman swingman Paul Siljee (Wayne, NJ/Wayne Valley) extended it to an 11-point advantage (53-42) with a three-pointer, which matched MSU’s largest margin of the night. NJCU was able to cut the deficit to six, 63-56, on a Smalls basket with 2:33 remaining, but couldn’t shave any more off of the MSU advantage.

In a game with seven lead chances and four ties, MSU, which shot .377 overall (23-61) made 48.1 percent of its shots in the final 20 minutes (13-27) and only committed 12 turnovers.