Montclair, N.J. (1/21/15) – Senior J.J. Hladik forced overtime with a game-tying trey and junior Tommy Soulias added 10 points in the extra stanza as the Kean University men's basketball team edged Montclair State University, 81-78.
The win snaps a six game skid for the Cougars (4-13, 2-8) as Soulias added a new career-high of 31 points in tonight's action. The loss drops MSU to 5-10, 2-8 in conference play. Lavrone Green led the Red Hawks with 22 points off the bench.
After falling behind 3-0 on an opening three-pointer from Jerome Hinton, the Cougars took the lead on Soulias' first bucket of the night and held on to that lead for the remainder of the first half. Kean pushed their lead out to double-digits as Timothy Bradley put the score at 32-22 with just over four minutes to go in the half. MSU ended the first period on an 8-0 run, to close the gap as Kean headed into the break with a one point advantage (35-34).
Devyn Ransom gave the Red Hawks the lead 47 seconds into the second half however that was quickly erased by another Mike Diamond three-pointer putting Kean in front 38-36. The advantage would grow to 57-50 on Diamond's three with 8:01 left before the Red Hawks staged a 16-3 run over the next three-plus minutes.
Green connected on a pair of three's and Chris Torres buried one from behind the arc giving MSU the lead 61-60 with 4:53 left. A jumper by Ransom and three-pointer by Erick Loften –Harris put the Red Hawks up 66-60 with 3:03 remaining.
Ransom hit once from the line giving Montclair a 67-62 lead with 95 seconds left but Soulias trimmed that to two points with a basket and free throw after being fouled. MSU turned the ball over and Diamond was fouled with 41 seconds. He made 1-of-2 making it 67-66 and the Cougars fouled Green who also made one free keeping the game at two points, 68-66.
Ransom came up with a rebound and two foul shots from Loften-Harris with 23 seconds gave MSU a 70-66 advantage. Soulias was fouled with :14 left and hit his first free throw. He missed the second but followed the miss with a rebound which eventually came out to the top of the key for Hladik, who drained the triple tying the game at 70-70.
In the overtime, after trading points, Soulias converted another three-point play giving Kean a 75-72 lead with 2:46 remaining. Torres answered with a basket for Montclair but Soulias again came up big with a long three from the left side extending the Cougar lead to 78-74 with 1:38 left.
Loften-Harris hit once from the foul line as did Diamond before Green connected on a three-point with 32 seconds for a 79-78 Kean lead. The Cougars failed on an opportunity to ice the game missing two free throws with 19 seconds left however Montclair was unable to capitalize as Green's three-pointer with three seconds hit off the side of the rim.
Soulias (pictured left) made two foul shots at the other end for the three-point lead which held up as Montclair's half-court heave at the buzzer bounced off the rim.
Kean returns home to face New Jersey City University on Saturday at 1 p.m.