Georges' FT in Final Seconds Sends Men's Basketball Past WPU, 58-57

Wayne, NJ (2/18/09) - A free throw by Jon Georges (West Orange, NJ / St. Peter's Prep) capped a frantic finish as Montclair State defeated William Paterson, 58-57, in the regular-season finale for both schools at the WPU Rec Center on Wednesday evening.

MSU, which already clinched the NJAC North Division, won its ninth straight game as it improved to 20-5 on the season while finishing its conference slate at 11-2. It is the eighth time that MSU has won 20 games in a season and the third time under head coach Ted Fiore.

MSU will be the North Division’s top seed in the upcoming New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Men’s Basketball Tournament, and will host the winner of the TCNJ/Rutgers-Newark first-round game on Tuesday, Feb. 24, in the semifinal round at the MSU Student Recreation Center (7:00 pm). The Pioneers (19-6, 8-5 NJAC) will be the North’s second seed and will host Kean, the third seed in the South Division, Saturday, Feb. 21, in a first-round game.

The two sides forged the seventh tie of the game at 55-55 with 3:45 to play after a Gabriel Paul (Hillside, N.J./Hillside) jumper for the Pioneers, but neither team was able to find the bottom of the net again for the next 3:30, as the two teams combined to miss nine shots and commit six turnovers during the stretch. William Paterson had possession of the basketball during the game’s final 40 seconds. Fowler’s attempt at the go-ahead basket was off, but junior Bobby Dunn (Garwood, N.J./Arthur L. Johnson) came up with the rebound with 32 seconds left, allowing the Pioneers to hold for the last shot.

While Nelson was dribbling out some time at midcourt, Montclair State’s Ali Mix (East Orange, NJ / East Orange Campus) poked the ball away and raced to the end of the floor. Mix was unable to corral the ball at the baseline, and threw the ball backwards in an attempt to send it in the direction of one of his teammates. Instead, Fowler jumped up and grabbed the ball, but as he came down to the floor he landed on top of another player, and his slip resulted in a traveling call with 12.6 seconds left.

During the resulting inbounds play, Mix made a 15-footer from the left baseline, making it a 57-55 Red Hawk lead with 10.0 seconds on the clock. Junior Joseph Ellis (Newark, N.J./Newark Science) then sliced through the lane and released a shot that fell through the rim, but the William Paterson guard was whistled for a foul as his momentum continued to carry him through the lane. Officials counted the basket to tie the game, but awarded two free throws to Georges with 4.9 ticks remaining. After Georges made both free throws, the Pioneers had one last chance, but Nelson’s three-point attempt at the buzzer would not fall.

Neither team led by more than seven, an early 10-3 advantage for the Red Hawks, as the game featured eight lead changes and seven ties in front of a raucous home crowd for William Paterson. The two teams were nearly identical from the floor, with MSU making 20 of 51 (.392) and WP connecting on 21 of 54 (.389) attempts, but the Red Hawks got to the line 10 more times than the Pioneers (15-28 vs. 13-18), and owned a 22-11 advantage in points off turnovers and a 19-12 edge in fast-break points.

Georges led Montclair State with his 16 points and 12 rebounds. Junior forward Daniel McRae (Orange, NJ / Newark Tech) had 15 tallies and six boards, and classmate Ken Dudley (Willingboro, NJ / Burlington Tech) had nine points, five rebounds and four assists.

Fowler led all scorers with 20 points, adding a game-high four steals, while Ellis had 12 tallies for William Paterson.