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.