GALLOWAY, N.J. (NJCUGothicKnights.com) | The New Jersey City University men's basketball team had its worst performance of the season and it came at a bad time— facing a Stockton University club that needed to win to keep its New Jersey Athletic Conference Tournament hopes alive. Stockton built an 11-point halftime advantage and extended it in the second half before upsetting the Gothic Knights, 87-66, on February 14 at the Stockton Sports Center.
NJCU was seeking to win 20 games in the regular season for the first time since its last Final Four campaign in 1991-92, but will instead enter the NJAC Tournament with a 19-6 record and 13-5 in the NJAC. Ramapo (19-6, 15-3 NJAC) clinched the league's No. 1 seed with an 82-75 home win over Rowan (13-12, 9-9 NJAC). Meanwhile, TCNJ (19-6, 14-4 NJAC) edged Rutgers-Newark, 67-62, to solidify the No. 2 seed.
Stockton (15-10, 9-9 NJAC) finished in a three-way tie in the standings with Rowan and William Paterson (14-11, 9-9 NJAC) but was the odd team out after tiebreakers were factored in.
NJCU will face No. 6 seeded William Paterson on Saturday, February 17 at 3 p.m. in the NJAC Quarterfinals with the winner traveling to No. 2 TCNJ in the NJAC Semifinals in Ewing, N.J. on Wednesday, February 21 (7 p.m.). Meanwhile, No. 4 Montclair State (17-8, 11-7 NJAC) hosts No. 5 Rowan with the winner taking on Ramapo in the semifinals.
Stockton had a 42-18 margin in points in the paint and it took exactly two minutes for the game to get away from the Knights. NJCU trailed by two with 7:00 left in the first half (26-24) before the Ospreys unleashed a 10-0 run to build a 12-point, 36-24 run with 5:00 to go. Stockton led 45-34 at the half.
NJCU was able to get the deficit into single digits (48-39) in the opening minute of the second half. But Stockton responded with a 9-1 streak to grab a 17-point lead (57-40) with 14:46 remaining and NJCU had no comeback in its arsenal on this night. Stockton led by as many as 23 points with 12:09 remaining (65-42)—NJCU's largest deficit of the season. The Knights were able to draw within 12 with 7:12 left but no closer.
Stockton had two players combine for 49 points. Stockton senior guard Zavon Johnson (Trenton, N.J.)led the Ospreys with a game-high 25 points (9-15 FG), knocking down 7-of-10 three-point tries in 35 minutes. The rest of the team made two threes. Junior guard Kashaun Barnes (Toms River, N.J.) came off the bench to score 24 points (9-17 FG) with five rebounds, four assists and two steals.
NJCU lost despite 23 points from junior shooting guard Lavrone Green (Teaneck, NJ/Teaneck). He was 5-of-8 from three-point range and 8-of-17 from the floor. Sophomore power forward Sam Toney(Plainfield, NJ/Williamstown) scored 12 points in the first half and finished with 17 points and eight rebounds.
Also for the Knights, senior point guard Ruben Acosta (Waterbury, CT/Bogota) had a career high 12 points, coming off the bench to shoot 4-of-6 from three-point range in 14 minutes; it was twice his previous scoring high and he entered the game with just 60 points in two seasons. Freshman center Chika Wosu (Jersey City, NJ/University Academy Charter)) had 10 points (4-7 FG). NJCU shot 35.2 percent from the field (25-71) but hit 11 threes in the loss (11-33).
Stockton shot 49.3 percent in the win (34-69). Senior forward Kevin Tull (Millville, N.J.) contributed 18 points (7-12 FG) and nine rebounds. Senior forward Darius Jerkins (Somers Point, N.J.) had 12 points (6-9 FG) and nine rebounds. Sophomore forward Kevin Allen (Atlantic City, N.J.) grabbed eight rebounds.
- Series: 84th meeting; NJCU leads, 48-36.
- NJCU receiving 19 points in the D3hoops.com Top 25 poll.
- NJCU ranked No. 1 in the first NCAA Division III Atlantic Regional rankings of the 2017-18 season (February 14, 2018) for the second straight week.
- NJCU was without starting small forward James Julius (Linden, NJ/Linden) and backup center R.J. Thomas (East Orange, NJ/St. Benedict's Prep), who both missed the game with injuries.
- Sam Toney (Plainfield, NJ/Williamstown) scored in double figures for the 41st time in 54 career games. He has scored 856 career points.
- Lavrone Green (Teaneck, NJ/Teaneck) reached double figures in scoring for the 19th time in 25 games as a Gothic Knight. For Green, it was the 36th double digit scoring effort of his collegiate career.
- Chika Wosu (Jersey City, NJ/University Academy Charter)) scored in double figures for the sixth time this season.
- Ruben Acosta (Waterbury, CT/Bogota)'s previous career high was six at TCNJ on January 22.
When NJCU hosts William Paterson in the NJAC quarterfinals on February 17, the Knights will be seeking to defeat the Pioneers for the third time this season. NJCU won 87-83 (1 OT) on November 29 at home and posted a 101-85 result in Wayne on January 24. It will be the 152nd known meeting in a series NJCU leads, 82-69. The Knights have won the last six meetings. It will be the 10th meeting all-time in the NJAC Tournament between the schools. William Paterson is 7-2 all-time against NJCU in the conference tournament, including a 63-61 (1 OT) win in Wayne on February 24, 2015 in the NJAC semifinals. NJCU's last win over the Pioneers in the NJAC Tournament was an 85-72 home court win on February 26, 2004, also in the NJAC semifinals.
Ticket prices are $5.00 for adults; $2.00 for children, students, and senior citizens. A special rate for NJCU students will be announced.
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