NJCU Hangs on Against Kean Men, 50-49

UNION, N.J. (1/28/12) – The Kean University men's basketball team erased  a double-digit deficit late in the second-half, however a three-pointer in the final seconds was off the mark as New Jersey City University held on for the 50-49 victory over the Cougars in NJAC action on Saturday afternoon. 

Sophomore guard Michael Burton (pictured left) scored a game-high 16 points for the Cougars (3-18, 2-7), while junior Kaihrique Irick had 15 points and four rebounds off the bench for the Gothic Knights (15-5, 5-4 NJAC).

Trailing 49-39 with just under six minutes remaining, senior guard Andrew Kirey knocked down back-to-back three-pointers and pulled the Cougars to within 49-47 with the fast-break dunk with 4:10 left in the game.  On Kean's next possession, Burton tied the game with a jumper at the 2:55 mark.  After a Gothic Knight miss, the Cougars were unable to take the lead on the next possession and NJCU junior guard Walik Albright knocked down 1-of-2 free throws for the 50-49 lead. 

The Cougars were unable to convert a pair of free throws, however the Kean defense forced the turnover and had one last possession with 13 seconds remaining.  After a timeout, Burton's three-point attempt from the top of the arc didn't fall, as Irick secured the rebound to seal the win.

NJCU erased a second-half deficit of their own to take the lead, as the Cougars led 37-28 following a three-pointer by junior Branly Cadet with 12:38 to go in the game.  A pair of foul shots by sophomore Kyle Latorre gave the Cougars a 39-32 lead at the halfway mark, however NJCU responded with 17 straight points to take a 49-39 lead following back-to-back three-point plays by Irick.  In the run, the Gothic Knights had a pair of three-pointers and four three-point plays. 

In the first half, the Cougars led by as many as 10 points at 24-14 and again at 26-16, before taking a 27-24 lead at the half.  Burton led the Cougars with 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting, including 2-of-4 from behind the arc, while Irick had seven points for NJCU.

After a pair of free throws pulled NJCU to within 27-26 to start the half, Kean used a 10-2 run to take the nine-point lead at 37-28 with 12:38 remaining.

Latorre finished with 11 points, while Kirey (pictured right) had eight of his 10 points in the second half. 

In the win, Albright finished with a game-high nine rebounds, while junior guard Michael Morris added seven points. 

Kean hosts Rowan University in a pivotal NJAC South Division match-up on Wednesday, February 1.  Tip-off is set for 8 p.m.