The Montclair State Red Hawks (16-3, NJAC: 9-2) hosted the Rutgers-Newark Red Raiders (5-13, NJAC: 3-9) in their second matchup this season. MSU looked to continue their win streak from three games to four as they dominated Rutgers-Newark two weeks back. The Red Hawks started the season 10-0 and are in search to retrieve the early groove they once had before they head into postseason play.
MSU depended on the three ball early going 4-6 from deep in the first seven minutes of the game giving them an early 14-10 lead. Senior Steve Breemen has been superior from the arc this season, knocking 2-4 earlier 3-pointers for Montclair State. Coming into the game, he was averaging 43% from deep, knocking 52 3-pointers which both lead the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) so far this season.
After a couple three balls for MSU, sophomore Kyree Henry jumped in the air with one hand putting the miss shot back up earning himself the basket plus the foul, increasing the Red Hawks lead to 17-12 with 11:05 in the first. The hustle the Hawks showed throughout the first half is the way they have played all year, physical and fast.
Rutgers-Newark took advantage of Montclair State’s fast-paced offense as two Rutgers-Newark defenders set their feet in front of the Hawks, earning themselves back-to-back charge calls on their defensive end. This kept the game close as the final eight minutes of the first half began to tick away.
Later in the first half, sophomore Mike Jackson hit a smooth behind the back, step-back three that brought MSU their biggest lead of the night 31-21 with 4:36 remaining. Jackson led MSU in the first half with 12 points giving MSU a 31-25 lead heading into halftime. MSU relied heavily from the three-point line, as six of their 10 field goals were from 3 during the first half.
Jackson continued to flourish in the second half knocking down an and one opportunity and then answering right back with a three-pointer giving him an earlier six points in the half, increasing MSU’s lead to 39-27 with 16:11 to play. Jackson has been on fire during MSU’s current win streak averaging 21.7 points.
Rutgers-Newark would bring the lead back to ten points, but Jackson once again answered right back, hitting his fourth three pointer of the night increasing MSU’s lead to 13. Jackson was not going to let his birthday be spoiled by Rutgers-Newark finishing the game with 23 points going 4-7 from three.
MSU from downtown was the ultimate factor as they cruised their way to a 71-50 final score. MSU knocked went 6-16 from deep in the second half as Rutgers-Newark went 0-4 from deep. Rutgers-Newark was led by sophomore Levi Holton with 13 points, but 12 three-pointers by MSU helped push their win streak to four games.
Montclair State’s Love for the 3-Ball
Deep from beyond the arch was the difference maker on Wednesday night between MSU and Rutgers-Newark. MSU knocked down 24 field goals with 12 of them being from beyond the arch just shows how dependent they have been with three balls throughout the season.
They are currently first in the NJAC with 207 made three-pointers through their first 18 games of the season. This averages out to 11.7 per game and is one of the contributing factors to their current 16-3 record.
MSU is led by Mike Jackson and Steve Breemen who are both currently top four in 3-PT field goals per game in the NJAC. With Jackson being on a hot tear these past four games and Breemen leading the lead in 3-PT%, teams better hope that MSU’s hot streak from deep doesn’t continue throughout the final stages of the season.
MSU shot beyond their 3-PT% shooting 40% from beyond the arch against Rutgers-Newark. Since MSU relies heavily on the three ball they are almost guaranteed a chance to win the game when they are dropping buckets from deep, shooting above their season average. The physicality this team plays with and the times they are knocking down 3’s is where this team seems most dangerous.
They will now look to continue their win streak to five games when they travel to Ewing, New Jersey to play conference opponent TCNJ (7-12, NJAC: 6-6) on Saturday. If this team can continue their win streak and keep hot from deep coming into postseason, they are more than capable of hanging around with some of the best NJAC teams.