The Montclair State University men’s basketball team defeated New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) rivals The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) Saturday afternoon 72-63 in a thriller. The win came after a tough loss against Ramapo College earlier in the week. Sophomore guard Myles Mitchell-White brought the Red Hawks to the top with 21 points and five rebounds to bring their record to 13-6.
After trailing 7-6 in the first few minutes, Montclair State turned the lead around and kept it for the majority of the game. The slow start proved to be meaningless as the Red Hawks took a 17-9 lead courtesy of junior forward-center Eddie Emedoh and sophomore forward Joseph Radi. A three-pointer by Radi secured the lead. With 10 minutes to go in the half, Montclair State was up 17-11 and continued to get consistent shots.
“We did a great job defensively on stopping their shooting, which they were really good at the first time we played them,” said sophomore forward-center Peter Obertan. “Offensively, we shared the ball really well which led to us getting the best shot for our team on every possession.”
The Red Hawks proved that team chemistry is key in playing well as they moved the ball around to get as many points as possible. Mitchell-White as well as junior forward Jalen Parham both put up a few points towards the end of the first half to give Montclair State a 34-29 lead going into the second half. This gave the Red Hawks the boost they needed to go out and dominate the second half.
“Everyone in the locker room knew we needed to win this game,” said sophomore guard/foward Irving Callender IV. “We took a tough loss the first time we played them at TCNJ, so we came out with fire and didn’t let up, it showed on the court.”
TCNJ came back a bit in the start of the second half, but the momentum was brought back to Montclair State by a blocked shot by Parham. Radi shot another three-pointer that evened out the three points that came from TCNJ foul shots as the Red Hawks kept a close lead on the Lions.
Emedoh had both 10 points and rebounds, giving him a double-double in two consecutive games. The score was 53-49 with five minutes left as Montclair State continued to rise above TCNJ. Foul shots were key for both teams in the exciting last few minutes, where Callender and Parham were very consistent in getting points for the Red Hawks.
“During the closing minutes of the game, I felt ecstatic because we have been working really hard in practice, and it felt great being able to see that hard work translate into the game,” Obertan said. “We played extremely hard and everyone played their role.”
Another block by Parham as well as a three-pointer by Callender brought Montclair State to a 10-point lead with one minute to go in the game. The Red Hawks made sure to keep the Lions out of the net to secure the win. Once again, team effort was key in this game and was a main reason why the Red Hawks came out on top.
“We came together as a team on that one, it was a team win from the guys on the court to the guys that didn’t play,” Callender said. “Nobody thought about themselves, that right there made me happy knowing that the person on the side of me will have my back.”
This big win gave Montclair State the confidence they needed going into the last few regular season games and into the postseason.