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Late game heroics lift Montclair State past Rowan in overtime

At this time last year, Rowan (13-13) ended Montclair State’s season in the first round of the NJAC Tournament. Matched up once again in the first round of the 2018 tournament, both teams’ locked in a classic battle at the Panzer Athletic Center on Saturday afternoon.

Leading by double digits with six minutes remaining in the second half, Montclair went ice cold the rest of the way, managing just six points. Meanwhile, Rowan swung the momentum in their favor due to the stellar combination of TJ Booth and Ramon Wright. Held to seven points at halftime, Booth scored 12 points while Wright erupted for 17 points.

With Montclair State up 61-58 with less than a minute to go, Booth drained a trifecta tying the game up. After Montclair forward Jordan Roberson sank a pair of free throws and guard Myles Mitchell-White (20 points, 11 rebounds) made one of two free throws, Owls guard Nick DePersia (15 points) canned a trey with five seconds remaining, sending the contest into overtime.

In the extra session, the lead changed several times, after Wright hit a pair of free throws with 56.1 seconds left giving Rowan a 73-72 lead. With Mitchell-White and Jarrett Bogus providing the bulk of scoring, it was senior guard Jovanni Chatham (15 points) that provided the late game heroics, burying a baseline triple with 39 seconds to go putting the Red Hawks back in front 75-73. After Chatham made one of two free throws, Booth’s three pointer missed as Irving Callender IV pulled down the rebound and was fouled. Chatham hit one of two free throws as the Red Hawks prevailed 77-73. Montclair ruled the backboards, out rebounding Rowan 61-39, 43 of those coming on the defensive end.

“A great finish, I feel horrible for Joe Crispin because we were on the other side last year,” said Montclair State Head Coach Marlon Sears. “We knew they were going to come out swinging and they chipped away and take your hat off to them competing for 45 minutes but our guys made the plays down the stretch so I can’t tell you how excited on the right side of this thing. Our guys just made the plays and we talk about toughness every day, defending and contesting shots, stepping up and making big shots on the offensive end and Jovanni did it and Myles was terrific.”

“A complete team effort and we talk about rebounding takes zero talent and who wants the basketball more and go to the defensive glass every single possession and something we work on daily and paying dividends at this time of the year. Jovanni stepped up and made his free throws and a guy who I thought was terrific off the bench was Irving Callender IV and did a terrific job guarding the basketball and helping out rebounding. Myles is a special person on and off the court and he loves his teammates as they do also and everything about him screams leadership and winner and glad to have him.”

Mitchell-White on the Red Hawks win, “Our team plays and practices hard, that is the one thing we preach no matter what goes on and when it came down to it at the end of the game. Whether we won or lost knowing we left the gym we played hard and to the best of our ability. Jovanni was struggling all game and we told him to keep shooting the ball. It felt comfortable at home in the first round and put the icing on the cake knowing we worked hard to get this.”

Next up for Montclair State (18-8) is a semifinal match-up against the number one seed Ramapo College Roadrunners (19-6) on Wednesday, February 21. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Bradley Center (Ramapo College of New Jersey).

“At the end of the day we split with them during the season but Coach (Chuck) McBreen does a great job with his guys and at the end the day they are the champs, regular season champs last year and went to the NCAA’s so they are still the team that needs to be knocked off and we are excited and ready to go,” said Sears.

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Sunil Sunder Raj

Since July of 2014 Sunil Sunder Raj has been with In The Zone. Sunil has experience covering minor league baseball, high school and college sports. A beat writer for the Rockland Boulders for six years, Ramapo College men’s basketball for four years, NJIT men’s basketball and Seton Hall women’s basketball. Now focusing on feature articles about athletes, coaches and sports media professionals. A graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism.
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