Ewing, NJ – It was a good news, bad news kind of day for the Montclair State men's basketball team.
Starting with the bad news, the Red Hawks dropped their third straight game falling at The College of New Jersey 94-78 on Saturday afternoon. Senior Jarrett Bogus finished with 16 points while guard Jovanni Chatham and Myles Mitchell-White had 15 apiece.
The loss put MSU at 16-8 on the season, 10-7 in the NJAC. Montclair sits all alone in fourth place and that is where the good news comes in. With a couple of results playing into Montclair State's favor, it will be the No. 4 seed in the upcoming conference tournament which gets underway on Saturday, February 17.
That means the Red Hawks will host a first-round game at home for the first time since the 2009 semifinals and the first time at the Panzer Athletic Center since the semifinals of the 2002 NJAC Tournament. Montclair State played its 2008-09 campaign in the MSU Rec Center while the PAC was being renovated.
Back to Saturday's game where the Red Hawks shot 51 percent in the first half and was able to build a 12-point lead. Bogus converted a three-point play with 4:35 left staking MSU to a 38-26 halftime lead. Montclair would go into the break in front 46-39.
But the Lions (18-6, 13-4 NJAC), who are in the hunt for a first-round bye, flipped the script on the Red Hawks over the final 20 minutes outscoring MSU 55-32. TCNJ shot 55.6 percent from the floor and held Montclair to just 32 percent shooting.
Guard Eric Murdock, Jr., scored 19 of his game-high 39 points in the second and got help from Jordan Glover who put in 14 of his 16 points during the period.
New Jersey erased the seven-point deficit in the first 5:21 of the half as Murdock drained a three-pointer tying the game at 53-53. After trading the lead the game was knotted at 56-56 when the Lions embarked on an 11-point run to take control. Glover hit from behind the arc to start things off and two free throws by Randy Walko followed before back-to-back three's by Ryan Jensen and Murdock put TCNJ in front 67-56 with 9:10 to play.
Joe Montano gave TCNJ its largest lead at 79-63 with 5:43 left on a three-pointer – one of 16 made in the game by the Lions. Montclair State would get the lead back under double digits once the rest of the way as Mitchell-White scored cutting the deficit to 79-70 with 4:19 left.
Kaan Yilmaz had 12 points for MSU, which got nine rebounds from Mitchell-White. Bogus and Chatham had six and five caroms respectively.
The Red Hawks will look to close out the regular-season on a high note when it hosts Rutgers-Camden on Wednesday, February 14 at 8:00 pm. It will be Senior Night as the Red Hawks will honor their three prior to the contest – Bogus, Chatham and guard Daniel Ramis.