JERSEY CITY, N.J. – William Paterson (4-3, 0-2 NJAC) seized the lead with less than 14 minutes remaining, but the Pioneers couldn't overcome host New Jersey City (4-2, 2-0 NJAC), 70-64, in men's basketball action Dec. 2.
Senior guard Bright Mensah (Hackensack, N.J./Hackensack) collected 19 points, seven rebounds, five assists and six steals, while senior guard Terik Bridgeman (Harlem, N.Y./Nia Prep) had 15 tallies, eight boards and five blocked shots. Junior forward Richy Espinal (Ridgefield Park, N.J./Ridgefield Park) added 13 points, nine caroms and four steals.
The Pioneers scored the first five points of the contest, but the Gothic Knights responded with a 24-4 run to surge ahead by a 24-9 count with 11:33 remaining in the first half. NJCU was poised to blow the game open, holding a 40-23 edge with 3:59 on the clock, but WP responded with two Mensah free throws and back-to-back three-pointers by Espinal and Bridgeman, the start of a 17-2 burst that cut the lead to 42-40 at the 0:26 mark. Two late New Jersey City free throws made it a 44-40 margin at the break.
An effective press and three consecutive layups by Espinal, junior guard Galen Smith (Piscataway, N.J./Piscataway Tech) and Bridgeman handed the Pioneers their first lead in 22 minutes, 50-48, with 13:44 left. Freshman guard Keshawn Alexander scored six of NJCU's next 10 points (58-50, 9:56), and a later Ata Robinson bucket pushed the advantage to 11 at 63-52 with 7:28 on the clock as WP was 1-for-8 (.125) from the field with two turnovers during the stretch.
Junior guard Zach Frick (Sparta, N.J./Sparta) drained a layup and a trey, and Espinal added a basket to make it a two-possession game at 63-59 with 4:16 remaining, but the short-handed Pioneers again went cold from the floor, missing their next six shots and committing a pair of turnovers as the Gothic Knights stretched it to a 70-61 margin with 12 seconds to play.
Junior guard Jalen Harris paced NJCU with 18 points, adding eight rebounds, and freshman center Yuri Brutus had 15 tallies and 11 boards.
William Paterson will host Stockton Saturday, Dec. 5, at 1:00 p.m.