BRONX, NY (NJCUGothicKnights.com) | It was a battle between two of the top public men's basketball programs in the Eastern United States and it was an epic thriller that had almost everything. An incredible comeback for New Jersey City University to force overtime. A late rally by Buffalo State College in the first overtime to extend the game another five minutes. And the most combined foul shots (112) by two teams in the history of NCAA Division III men's basketball. But in the end NJCU's seven-game winning streak came to an end in the final seconds of double overtime as Buffalo State survived NJCU, 119-116, in a neutral court opening round game at the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Lehman College on December 29.
NJCU (7-3), which lost for the first time since November 20, trailed by 16 in the first half and as many as 14 points in the second half and faced a five-point deficit with 42 seconds to go in regulation. Junior shooting guard Jalen Harris(Brandywine, MD/Gwynn Park (Md.)) took care of that, burying a pair of threes with 36 seconds and another with just two seconds to play to force overtime, tied at 94-94.
Up one (98-97) early in overtime, NJCU outscored the Bengals 9-1 to claim a 107-98 lead with 1:50 to play, as senior power forward Chinwe Wosu (Jersey City, NJ/University Academy Charter) scored five points. But Buffalo State (6-2, won 3) answered, scoring 12 of the final 15 points of the first extra session and Mike Henry connected on a three with five seconds to go to force a second overtime tied at 110-110.
NJCU led 114-111 3:48 into the second overtime on a Harris tip-in before Henry scored the next six points for the Bengals, giving BSC a 117-114 edge with 1:42 left. NJCU turned it over twice in the final two minutes. Leading by one, 117-116, the Bengals' Kevin Marmolejos hit two foul shots with three seconds left and Harris' bid for another three at the buzzer wouldn't go.
Each team had five players score in double figures. Wosu, perhaps the hottest player in the country, produced his fourth consecutive double-double and sixth of the season and scored at least 22 points in his fourth straight game, finishing with 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting (6-8 FT) with 12 rebounds in 42 minutes before fouling out just 39 seconds into the second overtime. The nation's No. 2 offensive rebounder had six of that variety.
Harris scored 21 points (5-13 FG, 2-5 3FG), including 9-of-10 from the line with three assists and freshman power forward Yuri Brutus (Roselle Park, NJ/Roselle Park) had his fourth career double-digit scoring effort—all in the last five games—scoring a career best 18 points (7-10 FG) in 19 minutes before fouling out. He had 11 in the first half.
Meanwhile, 1000-point scorer and senior small forward Khalid Muhammad (Orange, NJ/Orange)finally returned from injury and contributed 16 points (7-10 FT), four assists and four steals. FreshmanJames Frazier (Elizabeth, NJ/Elizabeth) made his highly-anticipated mid-year debut for the Gothic Knights and scored 14 points (7-9 FT) with five rebounds in 24 minutes before fouling out.
Freshman small forward James Julius (Linden, NJ/Linden) and junior point guard Ata Robinson (Newark, NJ/East Side) contributed nine points each. Julius was one of four Gothic Knights to foul out, joining Wosu, Frazier andBrutus. Robinson had six rebounds and three steals, shooting 3-of-6.
Nico McLean had a game-high 30 points on 10-of-19 shooting for Buffalo State and shot 9-of-13 from the line in 44 minutes before fouling out. He had eight turnovers and five steals. Henry finished with 28 points on 7-of-11 shooting (2-2 3FG) with 12-of-19 foul shooting, six rebounds and four assists in 38 minutes before fouling out with 1:34 left. The Bengals also had five players foul out.
Lovell Smith chalked up 20 points (6-13 FG, 8-12 FT), eight rebounds and four steals in 31 minutes and Jordan Glover added 15 points (6-12 FG) and five steals in 38 minutes before fouling out. Marmolejos scored 12 points (3-6 3FG).