Was it Enes Kanter of the Knicks or Kaan Yilmaz of Montclair State University? Who could tell the difference this Saturday night as Yilmaz and company put together their second biggest blowout win of the season with an 82-57 victory at Rutgers University-Newark. This completes the two-game series sweep over the Rutgers Raiders and improves Montclair State to 13-5 overall and 7-4 in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC).
Yilmaz led the way with a double-double, putting in a game-high 24 points along with his 12 rebounds. Like Kanter of the New York Knicks, also formerly from Turkey, the forward/center gave his best impression of the big man with a dominant and efficient night from the paint. The other front-court presence of Eddie Emedoh grinded out 11 points and three rebounds while Daniel Ramis found his way outside the paint with another double-digit point game with his 11 points.
Montclair State from the opening whistle did not let their foot off the gas. They shot well in the first half at a 52 percent clip, hitting 15 of 29 shots taking a ten-point lead into halftime at 38-28. The Hawks never trailed in this game and with 10 minutes into the second half they enlarged their lead to 34 before finishing off the game with a 25-point lopsided defeat. The difference in this game was the combined play of Yilmaz and Emedoh. Their stellar performances were mainly the reason Montclair was able to take over the paint and outscore them 42-32 in doing so.
Aside from the points in the paint, the dominance didn’t stop there, folks. The Hawks were able to control the defensive glass by outrebounding their opponents 31-20 and the underlying reason they were able to control possession while maintaining their large lead throughout the entire game. The game is sometimes won from down low and Montclair State proved worthy of that notion Saturday by taking over the inside from the get-go.
They have been a team all year that relies on the dribble drive penetration of their guards along with the distribution to the big men roaming the paint – and this game was a true annihilating defeat – all seriousness aside. Mirror image of the last meeting between these two on Dec. 2, 2017, the Red Hawks again shot 50 percent from the field. This team who has been steady at sharing the ball for most of the year was able to rack up 18 assists in Saturday night’s affair while averaging 14.2 per game on the season.
Since the Gelston/Paskert Holiday Tournament, the Montclair State Red Hawks are 4-2 and building on a two-game winning streak. It will be a stressing point by coach Marlon Sears to keep the intensity up and the team focused with only seven games remaining until the conference tournament.
A strong finish can bring them into the top three seeds for the tournament, and the Red Hawks will be striving for this by finishing the season off on a strong note. Their next matchup comes this Wednesday at home at 8 p.m. as they take on first place Ramapo College who are 9-1 in conference play and 14-4 overall in the season. After that, Montclair State will hit the road for a meeting in Glassboro, New Jersey with Rowan University on Saturday, Jan. 27 at 3 p.m.
Montclair State will have their work cut out for them, but if they can keep up their offensive efficiency and controlling of the paint, then they should have no problems.