Newark, NJ (WOIO) -
Cleveland State's season came to an end with an 80-77 setback at NJIT in the second round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament on Monday night in the Fleisher Athletic Center.
CSU concludes its season with a 19-15 record, while the Highlanders advance to the quarterfinals of the tournament at 20-11.
Anton Grady posted his 11th double-double of the year with a career-high tying 26 points and 11 rebounds, adding three assists and two blocks. Marlin Mason totaled 19 points and five rebounds, while Trey Lewis battled through a hip injury to post eight points, six rebounds and three assists.
Kaza Keane scored 13 points with four assists, while Kenny Carpenter played 27 strong minutes off the bench, tallying six points, seven rebounds and three assists.
“This was a great game,” CSU head coach Gary Waters said. “Both teams shot the ball extremely well, but they were able to hit some key shots down the stretch. The last three-pointer stayed up on the rim for an eternity before falling in and you think destiny was on their side.”
Both teams shot the ball well all game with CSU hitting .491 (26-53) from the field, including 10-of-24 (.417) from three-point. NJIT shot .545 (30-55) from the floor and hit 13-of-26 (.500) from three-point.
Mason started the scoring with a quick alley-oop dunk 17 seconds in, but the Highlanders responded with 10 straight points, forcing a CSU timeout.
The Vikings rode the hot shooting of Mason who hit four three-pointers in the first nine minutes of the game, the final one giving CSU a 20-19 lead. However, the teams continued to trade runs from there in a half that featured three ties and eight lead changes.
Seven straight points by NJIT gave them a 27-20 lead with 8:54 left, but the Vikings came right back with eight points of their own to regain a 28-27 lead with just under six minutes to play. Four straight from the Highlanders gave NJIT a 32-28 lead, but with the score knotted at 36-36 with 2:26 to play, the Vikings closed the half on an 8-3 run to take a 44-39 lead at the half.
Carpenter closed the first half scoring with a three-pointer from the corner with seven seconds left.
The Highlanders opened up a seven point lead (67-60) midway through the first half and tied its largest lead of the game (75-67) on back-to-back three-pointers from Damon Lynn. However, the Vikings continued to claw back, scoring seven straight points to pull within one (75-74) with three minutes to play.
The teams traded layups before Grady split two free throws to knot the contest at 77-77 with 39 seconds left.
Ky Howard would find himself open in the corner with 20 seconds left and hit what proved to be the game-winning three-pointer as the ball bounced on the rim three times and sat on the front of the iron before falling.
CSU had a chance to tie, but Mason's three-pointer was off and after Lynn missed the front end of a one-and-one, Grady had a desperation heave from just past midcourt at the buzzer.