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Men’s Basketball Improves Record to 5-2 in Home Opener

by Maxwell Strauss

There was a lot of energy at Panzer Athletic Center on Saturday as the Montclair State University Red Hawks men’s basketball team took on the Kean University Cougars in their first home game of the season.

Montclair State played a full-court from start to finish. Kean had a hard time adjusting as Montclair State scored the first nine points of the game. Kean eventually got back in to the game, but as the first half progressed, Montclair State’s lead became steadily larger.

Head Coach Justin Potts commented on the game.

“It was nice to play in Panzer. I’m sure for the guys obviously it’s a little more comfortable when you’re playing at home,” Coach Potts said. “I thought we did a good job preparing. I thought practice was great. There was a lot of energy, so it was nice to finally get a home game and put the white uniforms on for the first time this season.”

The game was capped off by a 24-9 run in a 6 1/2 minute stretch. By the end of the first half, the score was 50-34 in favor of the Red Hawks.

Junior forward Irving Callender IV talked about his team’s play.

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Junior guard and forward Irving Callender IV shoots the ball during the match against Kean University.
Chris Krusberg | The Montclarion

“That’s what we do for every game,” Callender said. “The key to our success is playing good defense, playing fast [and] playing hard on the defensive end [which] will give us easy buckets on the offensive end.”

The second half was more of the same. Montclair State started the first 7 1/2 minutes of the second half on a 26-9 run. Their largest lead of the game reached a point margin of 34.

Kean had a good run late in the game to get the differential under 20, but it did not matter as Montclair State won, 96-79.

With Montclair State’s defensive intensity throughout the game, they forced Kean into 23 turnovers, had 17 steals and 28 points off turnovers.

Senior forward Justin Porter commented on the way Potts coaches his team.

“We actually love it,” Porter said. “We feel as though Coach Potts lets us play with freedom and we just hone in on the defensive end. So as long as we stick to our principles and fly around, play with energy and effort it works out and it shows on the scoreboard.”

Montclair State had balanced scoring, with five players scoring in the double figures range. Both Callender and senior forward Jalen Purham had over 15 points with 17 and 16 respectively.

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Senior guard Nate Nahirny dribbles the ball down the court.
Chris Krusberg | The Montclarion

“Besides the scoring, I thought we played well as a team,” Purham said. “Saw a lot of people score easily, I thought that we were focused today. We all played with energy so that kept us all energized the whole time and everyone fed off of it, so it became easy to score.”

Kean had no lead almost the entire game. Montclair State kept the lead in 37:56 minutes of the 40 minutes played.

Potts shared his thoughts on how he thinks the team is doing.

“I think we’re doing a really good job,” Coach Potts said. “It’s obviously new for them but they’re learning how to make some adjustments through the course of the game.”

Potts discussed what worked the best for the team in their home opener.

“Today we got a little bit from everybody, the pressure generated some easy baskets and we got some stuff out in transition,” Potts said. “Guys could get to the front of the rim, we take a lot of threes so you know we shot the ball pretty well today too which helps.”

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