When the final buzzer sounded at the end of the game, both teams could finally rest after a hard-fought game leaving it all on the court.
The Montclair State University men’s basketball team had narrowly defeated New Jersey City University by a score of 83-82 in overtime.
The game began at 7:30 p.m. in the Panzer Athletic Center. In addition, this game served as the Red Hawk’s first New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) matchup for the Red Hawks.
The highest scorer of the game for the Red Hawks was senior guard Keyon Pryce who had 18 points followed by senior guard Kieran Flanagan and junior guard Mike Jackson who each finished with 16 points.
Head coach Justin Potts has seen his teams perform at a high level in close games before and has a lot of trust in Montclair State at the end of games.
“I think we obviously having a lot of guys that have experience, that helps,” Potts said. “We played four games, three of them have come them down to one possession so we’ve been in that scenario a decent amount of times. You know, we trust our guys, we try to put them into position to be successful. They got to go execute it and I thought they did a great job of it tonight.”
The Red Hawks started the game off slow compared to the Gothic Knights. Within the first seven minutes of the game, Montclair State had been down by a high of nine points with a score of 12-3. At this point, the Red Hawks only had free throws and one shot to their name.
The second half of the first half is when Montclair State started to get back into the game. After making free throws, Jackson had helped to give Montclair State the lead of the game. The Red Hawks later went on a run towards the end of the first half led by Jackson as it was raining three pointers.
Montclair State is currently only shooting 28% from downtown on the season compared to their 35% mark a year ago. For a team that likes to use the three point shot, they are going to have to improve on their shooting.
It was a slow start to the game for Montclair State and Potts was paying close attention to it while also acknowledging that they need to be better early.
“I mean this game always scares you because you wonder if guys are on Thanksgiving break already,” Potts said. “We’re not shooting the ball very well and we’re probably kinda predicated on shooting and when we’re making threes we can get into the press and those kind of things which we didn’t do to start the game. I give our guys credit for staying with it and kind of fighting through it. We definitely have to get off to a much better start as we get into league play and as we go through the course of the season.”
The Red Hawks had the lead at halftime 37-31.
Within eight minutes into the second half, the Gothic Knights had taken the lead. However, the Red Hawks battled back in the following minutes. There was a total of seven lead changes throughout the night.
The Gothic Knights found themselves down six with less than 15 seconds remaining and magically banked in back to back three point jumpers to force overtime.
Pryce believes that a big part of the game of basketball is being able to focus on the next play.
“Oh, we know that we just had to go play another five minutes and play as hard as we can and that’s the way the basketball game goes,” Pryce said. “Sometimes they get the best of us and today we got the best of them. So just going through that, going through those emotions of the ball getting deflected out, maybe it was us, maybe it was them and we just gotta go to the next play, next play mindset.”
The overtime period was very back and forth, but four points from Pryce was enough to take the win.
Montclair State’s next game is against Rutgers-Newark next Wednesday, Nov. 29, which is another NJAC game, and is set to begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Panzer Athletic Center.