The Red Hawks took on The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) last Saturday and picked up their fifth straight win. The final score of the contest was 88-76 as TCNJ could not keep up with Montclair State University’s firepower.
Montclair State had a rough start to the game going down 7-0 in a matter of moments to the Lions. Sophomore Nick Koch had all seven of those points, scoring two tough floaters and a three-ball.
Montclair State responded back with threes of their own and scored their first 18 points from several shots beyond the arc, and Head Coach Justin Potts knows that’s usually how his team plays.
“Going into the week, I think we were ninth or tenth in the country in threes made out of 350 teams,” Potts said. “We shoot a lot of threes and we kind of live by the three. Some nights it doesn’t go so well, but these guys are pretty comfortable and I know they put a lot of work in so I am comfortable on the sideline letting them shoot it.”
Later on in the first half, the Red Hawks were running a full-court press which did not work like it usually does. TCNJ found a bucket almost every time, so Montclair State had to adjust accordingly if they were going to take control of this game.
Senior guard Kieran Flanagan and junior guard Mike Jackson played significant roles during the first half of play, and this would continue to be a constant theme throughout the game. It was a close battle thus far in the contest with Montclair State only up 45-41 heading into halftime.
The Red Hawks seemed to really find their groove in the back half of this game and went on a nice run to take a commanding lead. At the 12:49 mark, the Red Hawks found themselves up by 11 points and were focused on adding to the lead on each possession.
TCNJ could not keep up with their momentum and they were never able to get back into striking distance. Jackson and Flanagan both finished the game with 20-plus points, lifting the team to their fifth straight victory.
Both of them always excel at finding many ways to get involved in the game, even when the ball is not in their hands.
“It all goes into the preparation and the teams were playing,” Flanagan said. “We have a great coaching staff and offensively, coach Rossi helps us out a ton. We spent a lot of time on film, on what would be open. Executing those actions has been most important for us in the second half of this season and we just have to keep doing that.”
Jackson, who led the team in scoring with 26 points, believes the team and their connection along with focus is what makes them special.
“We all stay together as a unit,” Jackson said. “We go out there and do what we have to do. If we make a bad decision we don’t worry about it and we focus on the next play.”
It was a great win for the Red Hawks as they now sit at 14-6 on the season. The team is looking to keep their hot streak alive and take this confidence into a game against William Patterson on Jan. 31.