The Montclair State University men’s basketball team fell short to New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) rival Rowan University Saturday afternoon. The win for the Rowan Profs came from senior guard Nick DePersia in the last few seconds, with a final score of 92-90.
Despite this, the Red Hawks had the advantage on Rowan for almost the entire game, with junior guard Akbar Hoffman scoring 21 points while senior forward-center Jordan Roberson had nine rebounds.
Scoring was not an issue for either team, as Montclair State had six players reaching double figures in points. They started the first half strong, going up 15-7 in the first five minutes. The Red Hawks kept playing toward their net with strong offense by junior guard forward Justin Porter and three-pointers by sophomore forward Joseph Radi as well as Hoffman.
Montclair State kept moving the ball around well to ensure consistent shot attempts by players such as Hoffman. Two foul shots by Porter brought the Red Hawks up by 10 with a minute and a half to go as they kept Rowan out of the net with stellar defense. Montclair State was up 45-36 at the end of the first half.
Junior foward Jalen Parham, who had 10 points in the game, commented on how he thought his team played.
“We could have improved our communication and sense of urgency down the stretch,” Parham said. “What we did well was that we shared the ball throughout the game, but we just couldn’t get it done at the end.”
The Red Hawks kept up the strong defense to start off the second half, keeping Rowan out of the net again. Sophomore guard forward Irving Callender IV scored two points on foul shots and sophomore guard Myles Mitchell-White scored a three-pointer to keep Montclair State on top of Rowan.
The Profs were noticeably better in this half, as they slowly crept up on the Red Hawks to make the score closer. Callender was one of the main reasons that Montclair State was able to stay above Rowan, getting consistent shots and assisting on a few points as well as scoring a three pointer.
The Red Hawks were still up by 10 with 14 minutes left, but Rowan started to come back. Porter kept it close with a blocked shot as well as two points on foul shots, but it was not enough to keep the Profs from getting the score to 63-61 halfway into the second half.
“In the last few minutes I thought we were in a great position to win,” Radi said. “But Rowan did what they needed to do to come back and steal one from us on our home court.”
The last few minutes were very intense, as the scoring went back and forth between each team. Parham kept passing the ball around as well as getting some points on a dunk, while attempting to rebound any ball he could to keep Montclair State on top. Shots were being blocked by both teams as an attempt to keep each other out of the net as the score still remained very close.
With two points each by Roberson, Parham and Hoffman kept the Red Hawks winning 87-81 with a minute left. However, Rowan’s foul shot brought the score back up to an uneasy 90-89. Montclair State made every attempt to finish the game strong at the end, but a missed three-pointer by Radi in the final seconds secured a win for Rowan.
“I personally felt really bad after that game especially since we lost to Rowan once already,” Parham said. “That loss hurt.”
The Red Hawks look to improve their 14-8 record, 9-6 in NJAC play and snap their two-game losing streak.
“I think next game we just need to be more aggressive in the way we’re playing knowing that winning on the road is hard,” Radi said.