NEWARK, N.J. (NJCUGothicKnights.com) | All-Americans hit All-American shots. The New Jersey City University men's basketball team found itself in a bitter scoring drought beginning with 5:40 left in the game. With sole possession of first place on the line in the New Jersey Athletic Conference and the game even at 62-62, junior preseason First-Team All-American Sam Toney (Plainfield, NJ/Williamstown) buried a 15-foot fall away jumper from the left baseline with 4.0 seconds remaining off a feed from senior point guard Shaquan Worthy (Trenton, NJ/Trenton Central) and NJCU overcame a valiant upset bid by Rutgers-Newark, 64-62, on January 26 at The Golden Dome.
NJCU improves to 15-5 overall and 10-3 in the NJAC with five regular season games remaining. Coupled with Rowan's 77-65 loss at two-time defending conference champion Ramapo earlier in the day, those two schools are 9-4 in the standings, moving the Gothic Knights back into sole possession of first place.
Toney scored 24 points, shooting 8-of-13 overall and 6-of-9 from three-point distance with six rebounds to lead all scorers. Behind him NJCU bagged 10 three-point shots (10-25, .400). NJCU did not go to the line much, but shot 90.9 percent on 10-of-11.
Sophomore guard Denzel Banks (Newark, NJ/(East Orange Campus) scored 11 (3-7 FG) while seniors Lavrone Green (Teaneck, NJ/Teaneck), James Richardson (Jersey City, NJ/Snyder) and James Julius (Linden, NJ/Linden) each netted seven. Worthy finished with six rebounds and four assists.
NJCU did not have a field goal in the final 5:40 of the game, missing seven straight shots after a late three by Banks, until Toney's heroic shot to win the game.
Senior guard Tyler Ofray (Newark, N.J.) had a double-double for the Scarlet Raiders (10-9, 3-9 NJAC), whose playoff hopes took a major hit with the loss. Ofray collected 22 points (8-17 FG) and 10 rebounds in 37 minutes.
Senior forward Mark Isiofia-Thomas (Newark, N.J.) hit big shots to tie the game on three occasions in the final minutes, finishing with 16 points (8-14 FG) and eight rebounds. Junior guard Chase Barneys (Woodbridge, N.J.) added 12 points, hitting 3-of-8 from long range. Those three players combined for 50 of RUN's 62 points.
Newark stayed in the game by limiting itself to eight turnovers. NJCU's bench outscored the Newark reserves, 23-7.
In a low-scoring first half, NJCU led by just two (26-24). Newark led for parts of the first half before NJCU went ahead on a Toney three with 6:32 left in the half. The Knights never led by more than three in the half.
NJCU began to grow its lead out of the break with a 13-4 spurt, pulling ahead by 11 (39-28) when Julius sank three foul shots. A triple by Toney made it a 12-point game (42-30) and the margin remained a dozen when Julius scored inside (44-32) with 14:16 left.
Things got interesting midway through the second quarter. Three-point shooting by RUN allowed the Scarlet Raiders to claw back. Triples by Mike Vick and Barneys made it single digits and a Thomas basket cut the deficit to four (46-42) with 11:26 left. Toney ended a more than three-minute scoring drought for NJCU with a triple for his 19th point but Barneys answered with a three of his own on the next possession. His three-point play with 9:34 left cut the lead to one (49-48).
Toney drilled another three (22nd points) before Ofray connected on a jumper. Newark tied it at 52-52 on a layup by Thomas with 8:22 left.
With 6:47 left, Green drilled a three from the far corner to regain a 55-52 lead before Thomas tied it again (55-55) with a jumper with 5:58 left. A triple by Banks with 5:40 to go was responded to by another three from Barneys, evening the game yet again, 58-58, with 5:17 left. Banks hit two free throws (4:53) and after Ofray tied it again (60-60) with his 22nd points on a layup with 2:41 to go, Banks sank two foul shots (2:14) to put NJCU back on top again, 62-60.
A mid-court offensive foul by Newark on the next possession gave NJCU back the rock. The Knights could not capitalize and with 1:09 left, Thomas tied the game for the third time in the final minutes, sinking a jumper for his 16th points. When NJCU missed a jumper, Newark grabbed a defensive board and called timeout, tied at 62-62 with 31 seconds left. Barneys missed a three with 20 seconds left, Worthy grabbed the carom and NJCU called timeout with 11.8 seconds left.
An inbounds connection between Worthy and Toney on the far sideline, the two teamed up for the winning shot on the near baseline. Newark could not get a quality three-point look on the final inbounds.
- Series: 86th meeting. NJCU leads all-time series, 68-17, and has won the last eight meetings.
- Sam Toney (Plainfield, NJ/Williamstown) scored in double figures for the 59th time in 76 career games.
- Sam Toney (Plainfield, NJ/Williamstown) scored at least 20 points in a game for the 27th time in his career, the 24th time in his last 47 games and the 10th time this season.
- Toney remains 17th in school history with 1,255 points. Here are the next players on the list (* denotes three-year career):
- 13th: Jeff Harrington (/) (1997-2001), 1302 points
- 14th: Dana John (Hillside, NJ/Pocono Mountain East (PA)) (2005-08), 1281 points *
- 15th: Steve Schindler (/) (1970-73), 1263 points *
- 16th: Khalid Muhammad (Orange, NJ/Orange) (2012-16), 1257 points
- 17th: Sam Toney (Plainfield, NJ/Williamstown) (2016-19), 1255 points *
- Denzel Banks (Newark, NJ/(East Orange Campus) scored in double figures for the ninth time in 20 games in his first season playing for NJCU.
- NJCU puts its 8-0 record on the line on Wednesday, January 26 (8 p.m.) when the preseason NJAC favorites challenge the preseason No. 2 team, Montclair State University (13-6, 8-4 NJAC). MSU upended NJCU, 81-76, on December 5 in Montclair, N.J. in the first meeting this season.
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