Despite junior Kyree Henry’s game-tying buzzer beating three to send the game into double overtime, the Montclair State University men’s basketball team lost a thriller in their home season opener, Thursday night against the Falcons of Albertus Magnus by a score of 86-83.
To kick off the contest, both teams started out slow offensively, as it took over two minutes for someone to score a basket. Montclair State came out playing full court defense and was able to speed up the Falcons and score off of turnovers. However, the Red Hawks struggled to score on the Falcons set defense, due to poor shooting and self-inflicted turnovers.
After trailing 35-29 at the half, the Red Hawks found themselves in an uphill climb the rest of the way. The Falcons came out the half surging, taking their largest lead of the night of nine with 16:04 left in the game. The Red Hawks would respond behind junior Grant Holbrook, who hit back-to-back threes to cut the Falcons lead to one at 42-41 with 11:44 left.
After calling a timeout, the poised Falcons would go on a 15-5 run to take a commanding 11-point lead with 4:49 left in the game.
Despite the deficit and the clock battling against them, the Red Hawks clutch shooting and impregnable defense forced the Falcons into turnovers, leading to easy baskets for the Red Hawks. Montclair State would finish the half on a 17-6 run to force overtime after a missed game-winning attempt by sophomore Jeyson Slade of Albertus Magnus.
Senior guard Keyon Pryce attributed the comeback to the team sticking to the game plan.
“We didn’t really make any adjustments,” Pryce said. “We’re going to press 94 feet for 40 mins. We didn’t have a great first 20 mins in the first half, so we knew we had to come out in the second with a sense of urgency.”
In overtime, the Red Hawks would take their second lead in the second half behind a four-point play by Pryce.
However, the Falcons would respond again, scoring six unanswered, leaving the Red Hawks down 74-71 with seconds remaining. In overtime, junior Kyree Henry would hit a clutch contested three pointer to force double overtime at the buzzer.
With the electricity radiating in the Panzer Athletic Center, the Falcons did not seem stifled at all. They came out swinging again in double overtime, taking a 83-76 lead. Yet, they ultimately ended up losing the game 86-83 after missing a buzzer beater to force triple overtime.
The story of the night was missed shots and turnovers. The Red Hawks had amazing looks all night, but just could not connect on them. Montclair State shot 32% percent from the three-point line and 37% from the field. The Red Hawks also committed 20 turnovers, with some costly ones coming during the overtime periods.
Defensively, the Red Hawks were outstanding. They were able to speed the Falcons up for most of the night and force them to commit 20 turnovers while shooting 27% from the three-point line. However, the Falcons were able to convert at a decent rate inside the arc, shooting 45% from the field.
Junior guard Mike Jackson led the Red Hawks in scoring with 20, and senior guard Kieran Flanagan logged a double double of 17 points and 12 rebounds.
Looking forward, Head Coach Justin Potts described the early season loss as an eye opener, and that the team just has to play better overall as a collective.
“We didn’t shoot the ball very well, that’s something that we put an emphasis on,” Potts said. “I think the biggest thing for us is our depth has to get better collectively as a group. The way we play we need to play a lot of guys, so some of our young guys have to grow up a little bit, and some of our veterans have to keep setting the pace. This game early on in the year was a tough one, but it will open our eyes to what we need to work on.”
The Red Hawks will look to bounce back Tuesday night as they host New Jersey City in the Panzer Athletic Center.