Men's Basketball Locks Down NJAC North Title

Newark, NJ (2/14/09) - Sophomore guard Tom Bonard (Westfield,  NJ/Westfield HS) poured in 19 of his career-high 22 points in the second half to help Montclair State down Rutgers-Newark, 69-64, and clinch the New Jersey Athletic Conference’s North Division top seed in the upcoming league championship tournament.

Bonard hit three of four shots from beyond the arc and drained all 10 of his free throws in the second half as the Red Hawks (19-5, NJAC 10-2), who have won eight straight, ruined Senior Night in The Golden Dome and forced the Scarlet Raiders (13-11, NJAC 6-6) into a must-win situation in their final regular season game at New Jersey City on Wednesday.

It was the Red Hawks’ first divisional title in the three-year-old format, giving the team a first-round bye in the six-team format. MSU will host a semifinal game in the NJAC Tournament on Tuesday, February 24 at the MSU Student Recreation Center.

Rutgers-Newark will gained the division’s third and finals seed with a win at NJCU.  A loss would boost Ramapo (13-11, NJAC 6-7) into the tournament on the basis of tie breakers.

Montclair State sophomore center Jon Georges (West Orange, NJ/St. Peter’s Prep) muscled inside for 16 points and a game-high 15 rebounds while rejecting three shots.  Freshman guard Ali Mix (East Orange, NJ/East Orange Campus) netted all 12 of his points in the second half, hitting two of three shots from 3-point range.

Junior forward Deshawn Singleton (Passaic, NJ/Passaic) paced the Raiders with 20 points and 11 rebounds while junior forward Phil Barnes (Middlesex, NJ/Middlesex) also pulled down 11 boards.R-N senior forward David Cherry (Linden, NJ/Roselle Catholic), who finished with 13 points, and junior guard James Johnson (Summit, NJ/Summit), who tallied a dozen, netted nine points apiece as the Raiders constructed a 30-21 halftime edge.

The crucial play of the game came with 20 seconds left when senior center Ryan Washington (Edison, NJ/John P. Stevens) grabbed a missed free throw by Mix and put it back in for a crucial 63-61 lead.  After a Raider turnover, Bonard pushed the lead to five with a pair of free throws with 16 ticks remaining.  Bonard then made four of four free throw tries to offset a pair of layups by Singleton in the final 11 seconds to keep Rutgers-Newark at bay.

The Red Hawks close out their regular season on Wednesday, February 18 as they travel to Wayne, NJ to face backyard rival William Paterson at 8:00 pm.