Montclair, NJ – Junior forward Brandon Channer scored a game-high 25 points as Montclair State held off a furious Kean rally in the final 10 minutes for a 74-64 win at the Panzer Athletic Center on Tuesday evening.
Junior guard Erick Loften-Harris added 13 points, six rebounds and eight assists as the Red Hawks nearly squandered a 31-point lead in the second half before holding on for its third straight win. MSU (3-0, 2-0 NJAC) has opened the season with three consecutive wins for the first time since the 2009-10 campaign.
Freshman Diego Pujols had 21 points, seven rebounds, eight assists and five steals for Kean, which hell to 0-5 on the season in their NJAC opener.
Kean scored the first seven points of the game, including a shot-clock beating three by Pujols 2:24 into the contest. From that point on the Red Hawks outscored Kean 34-10 during the next 15 minutes. Freshman Jordan Roberson put MSU on the board with a layup and a three-pointer from Channer knotted the game at 12-12 with 11:45 left.
Loften-Harris later drilled a three-pointer and hit layup with five minutes left extended the Montclair lead to 26-15. Channer added another three and a second trifecta by Loften-Harris doubled Montclair State's advantage to 34-17 with 1:56 left. The Red Hawks went into halftime up 34-20.
Channer had 14 in the half as Montclair shot 7-of-16 from behind the arc.
The second half saw the Red Hawks slowly increase their lead. Channer had a three for a 45-22 MSU lead and Robersons' three-pointer put Montclair in front 56-28. Jahvan Rosbia converted a three-point play with 9:44 to go giving MSU its largest lead at 59-28.
But as quickly as Montclair got up by that much, the Cougars came close to erasing the entire deficit in five minutes with a 27-3 run. Pujols had eight points in the run, including a layup in the paint with 4:06 pulling Kean within 62-55. Channer answered with a three however a layup from Pujols with three minutes left made the score 68-59.
Loften-Harris delivered a key blow to the comeback with a deep three-pointer from the right wing for a 68-59 MSU advantage with 2:38 Justin Watson's three for Kean got the Cougars back to 70-62 with 67 seconds remaining and the Red Hawks missed an opportunity to put the game away missing three times at the foul line. Montclair State finished 5-of-14 at the line compared to 22-of-30 by Kean.
Jaleel Christmon hit one of those attempts making it a nine-point lead with 51 seconds left and Shaun Russell's layup with 26 ticks finished off the victory for the Red Hawks.
Russell finished with 12 points, four assists and three rebounds for Montclair while Roberson had nine points and eight rebounds.
Montclair State is now off until Sunday, November 29 when it hosts Hunter College at the Panzer Athletic Center beginning at 1:00 pm.