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Rowan Men's Basketball Holds Off Montclair State to Stay Atop the NJAC

The Rowan Profs traveled up to North Jersey to play the Montclair State RedHawks in a crucial conference play matchup. Rowan was able to (11-3; 8-0 NJAC) hold off MSU’s (12-3; 6-2 NJAC) late heroics to keep themselves on the top of the Division III New Jersey Athletic Conference winning 109-103.

These two teams split last season where MSU took the first contest, while Rowan earned their revenge in the last game of the regular season defeating MSU in overtime. Right from the jump of this game, you could see how much a win here would mean for both teams.

Rowan Profs Remain Undefeated in Conference

The Rowan Profs found themselves undefeated in conference thanks to a very balanced offense the Profs have this season. MSU’s fast tempo team looked to knock off Rowan, and force a three-way tie in the NJAC, going into the final stretch of the 2022-2023 regular season. 

Rowan just knocked off undefeated Kean University (13-1) after dominating the second half to give them sole possession of first place in the NJAC. Rowan hoped for that momentum to continue forward in tonight’s important conference matchup against MSU.

The first five minutes of the game proved the importance this game had for both teams. Each squad forced a fast pace tempo game trading earlier buckets as each team looked to pull away with an earlier lead. The score was 17-16 through the first seven minutes of the game while both teams continued to trade baskets. 

Ja’Zere Noel dominated the paint all day long, earning himself early buckets off of Rowan’s offense executing on MSU’s full court press defense. MSU would come right back running down the court to score, keeping the game within one score early on in the first half.

Finally, Ahmad Bickley came off the bench which gave Rowan momentum. Instantly, he knocked down two 3’s which boosted Rowan’s lead to 27-19, forcing MSU to call their first timeout with 11:40 remaining in the half. Bickely would end with 10 first half points off the bench. 

MSU answered back with their own run with buckets from Samar Abdullah and Grant Holbrook, bringing Rowan’s lead to one point with under ten minutes remaining in the half. MSU battled all night long, hoping to keep up with Rowan’s high scoring offense which is leading the NJAC with 92.7 points per game. 

Rowan continued to use MSU’s full court press to their advantage, capitalizing on quick layups after defeating the press. Marcellus Ross knocked down back to back three-pointers giving them the biggest lead of the game thus far, 44-34 lead with 5:20 remaining in the half.

MSU continued to play vigorously, avoiding Rowan’s late first half run led by Ja”Zere Noel  to go any further. Both teams played with high intensity during the first half as Noel led Rowan with 15 first first half points giving them a 52-39 halftime lead. 

D’Andre Vilmar opened the second half with a vicious lob from Ross, showing off his athleticism pushing Rowan’s lead to 15 earlier in the second half. It looked like earlier on in the second half that Rowan would run away with this contest giving themselves a 19 point lead after a Damian Smith convert and one opportunity with 12:38 remaining in the game. 

Steven Breemen hit multiple clutch shots which helped avoid Rowan’s lead to get any further than 19 points. Breemen finished the game with 30 points going 6 for 9 from 3. MSU heavily relied on the three throughout the entire game knocking 15 out of 41 attempted 3’s. 

Breemen’s hot hand late in the second half was followed by their teammates as they crawled their way out of Rowan’s big lead pushing it to within eight point game with 7:42 left. This brought MSU’s bench back into the game, as the momentum began to shift. 

Every time MSU gained momentum, it appeared they were creeping back in to make a comeback, but Rowan’s offense would answer right back, not allowing MSU to capitalize on the momentum.

Rowan Showing Elite Offense

Rowan's offense proved why they average over 90 points per game, Rowan had six players in double figures and were led by Noel who finished with 24 points and 11 rebounds and Andrew Seager who contributed with 17 points in a big time win.

MSU fought extremely hard all the way to the final buzzer but came up short in the end. They will look to take care of business with the thick of their conference matchups as they work their way to their revenge tour when they play Rowan in the finale of the regular season. 

Rowan now has back to back victories over some of the top teams in the NJAC. They look to bring this momentum into the final ten games of the regular season to prepare them to make a splash in the upcoming NJAC Tournament next month in an attempt to avenge their Championship loss last season.