GLASSBORO – Marcellus Ross scored 20 points and Hafiz Melvin moved away from the foul line 6 to 6 in the last 29 seconds when Rowan University defeated Rutgers-Newark, 72-69, in the men’s basketball semifinals (NJAC) on Thursday and reach the match the conference conference tournament on Saturday in Stockton.
Second-seeded Rowan (23-4), who has won eight straight wins, will meet Stockton, seeded number one, on Saturday at 6pm, and the champion will receive an NJAC automatic bid for the NCAA tournament.
Melvin claimed the Profs victory from the line, making all six attempts, although Rutgers-Newark scored eight points in the last 22 seconds, including a three-pointer to the beep to secure the final advantage.
With 3:30 left, Rutgers-Newark (17-9) scored five in a row, reducing Rowan’s lead to 64-61. Neither team scored for two minutes until Andrew Seeger found Ross at the bottom for a stop, putting Profs ahead 66-61 with a score of 1:11. The visitors were then forced to foul, and Melvin secured the Profs victory, although Rutgers-Newark scored eight points in the last 22 seconds, including a three-pointer to provide the ultimate advantage.
Josh Wright added 11 points for Rowan, while the Profs received seven rebounds each from Ross, Seeger and D’Andre Vilmar.
At the start of the second half Rowan held the biggest advantage of the game, 39-27, Rutgers-Newark scored seven points in a row to return to the competition, 39-34. Three-point Wright increased Rowan’s lead to double-digit numbers, 48-38, but Scarlet Raiders again reduced it to six points, 50-44, with a score of 11:43. From now on, Profs ’biggest advantage will be eight points.
Rutgers-Newark prevailed early in the game, but Rowan went into the series with a score of 9-0, thanks to a four-pointer by Wright and a three-pointer by Ross to overtake the Scarlet Raiders with a score of 17-11. The pros held the lead throughout the half with a score of 10 points, 31-21, with a score of 3:17. Rutgers-Newark would have reduced it to six points, but Melvin summed up a three-pointer with: 40 and allowed Rowan to go ahead 36-27.
Rowan will appear in the championship for the first time after the Profs won the title in 2019.