MBKB: Down 20, Sam Toney’s 36 Propels No.20 NJCU past Rowan, 79-76

NJCU’s Sam Toney (NJCU Athletics photo)

GLASSBORO, N.J. (NJCUGothicKnights.com) | Rowan University led No. 20 ranked New Jersey City University by 20 in the final seconds of the first half and after an initial Gothic Knight comeback, the Profs still led by 12 with 5:39 remaining. But sophomore power forward Sam Toney (Plainfield, NJ/Williamstown) had other ideas. Toney scored 27 of his career-high matching 36 points in the second half, including three consecutive threes in a span of 36 seconds before knocking down the go-ahead jumper with 20 seconds left as NJCU rallied on the road, 79-76, in a New Jersey Athletic Conference men’s basketball thriller on January 6 at Esby Gymnasium. NJCU led for just 20 seconds in the game.

Toney, who previously scored 36 against William Paterson in overtime on November 29, had a career high for regulation, taking over the game in the final 5:30, scoring 14 of NJCU’s final 21 points. In the second half alone, he shot 9-of-11 overall, knocked down all three three-pointers he took and was 6-of-7 from the line. In all, while amassing his fourth 30-point game of his career—all this season—he was 12-of-17 from the field (3-4 3FG) and 9-of-10 from the line with six rebounds and two assists in 29 minutes.

Toney joined all-time leading scorer Brett Wyatt, legendary player and coach Charlie Brown and Fred Douglas as the only players in school history to score 36 or more in a game in school history—combining for eight of the top 13 scoring performances on record in the 85-year history of the program. Wyatt, Brown and Douglas are all NJCU Hall of Famers. Toney is the first player to accomplish the feat twice in the same season.

NJCU, ranked No. 20 in NCAA Division III by D3hoops.com, improved to 11-2 overall and 5-1 in the NJAC. The Knights are 11-2 after 13 games for the second year in a row. Upset-minded Rowan fell to 8-6 (4-3 NJAC).

Down by as many as 13 with 7:39 left and 12 (70-58), with 5:39 to play, Toney willed NJCU to the comeback, as the NJAC’s leading scorer knocked down his three consecutive threes. The first two came with 5:27 and 5:09 left, his 25th and 28th points, to shave the deficit to six (70-64) before drilling another with 4:51 to play for his 31st point to make it a 70-67 game.

After two foul shots by junior guard DaRon Curry (Deptford, N.J.) and a foul shot by junior 6-foot-7 forward Ramon Wright (East Orange, N.J.) pushed it back to 73-67 with 3:46 to go, freshman center Chika Wosu (Jersey City, NJ/University Academy Charter)), making his first career start, scored his 10th point with 2:42 to go off a Toney feed. Wright answered with a dunk (75-69).

Toney was fouled from three-point range and knocked down all three foul shots with 2:05 remaining, giving him 34 points and the deficit was again just three (75-72).

After a timeout, junior guard Rob DePersia (Cherry Hill, N.J.) missed a three, Wosu grabbed a rebound, and junior point guard Shaquan Worthy (Trenton, NJ/Trenton Central) drilled a trey with 1:20 to go off Toney’s second assist to tie it at 75-75. Curry missed a layup with 50 seconds left, Toney grabbed the board and called a timeout, leading to Toney’s go-ahead step-back jumper with 20 seconds—NJCU’s first lead of the game.

After Curry missed the next shot for Rowan, Wosu grabbed the rebound with five seconds left, was fouled and made both foul shots to give the Knights a three-point cushion (79-76). Rowan’s three at the buzzer to tie it rattled out.

In his first career start, Wosu matched his career scoring with 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting with eight rebounds while Worthy added eight rebounds, seven points and two steals. Junior guard Robert Gordon (Maplewood, NJ/Columbia), making his first career start, had five points and four assists while junior guard Lavrone Green (Teaneck, NJ/Teaneck) scored eight.

For Rowan, three players scored 17. Wright scored 17 (5-8 FG), including 3-of-5 three-point shooting with nine rebounds and three blocks in 35 minutes and Booth scored most of his 17 from the line, going 8-for-11. He added five board and three steals in 32 minutes.

Rowan got a nice pickup off the bench from sophomore guard Jeff Haddock (Burlington, N.J.) who was 6-of-12 for 17 points in 16 minutes.

Also for the Profs, Rob DePersia had nine points (3-4 3FG), six rebounds and five assists. Junior guard Nick DePersia (Cherry Hill, N.J.) had nine rebounds, eight points and three assists while Curry had eight points and four assists.

In the first half, Rowan scored the first seven points, led by 10 midway through the half and led by 18 at halftime, 45-27. Rowan committed just three turnovers in the first half and turned 12 NJCU giveaways in the period into a 17-2 advantage in points off turnovers. NJCU countered with just six turnovers in the second half.

Toney scored nine points in the first half; no other Gothic Knight had more than four. Wright (4-5 FG) and Haddock (5-8 FG) each scored 11 in the first half and Wright was 3-of-4 from three-point range. Ron DePersia hit on 3-of-3 three-point tries and scored nine in the first half. Rowan led by as many as 20 (45-25) on a three by Nick DePersia with 20 seconds left in the half.

Down 47-29 early in the second half, NJCU awoke with a 16-2 run to pull within four (49-45) in the first five minutes of the period. A three by Gordon, five points by Toney, and two Wosu layups sandwiched around a pair of jumpers by Green—the last with 15:19 left—trimmed it to four. Toney’s 20th point, a jumper with 12:24 left, cut it to two (51-49) and extended the run to 20-4.

The Knights were still down four (57-53) at the midway point of the half before a triple by Booth pushed the lead to nine (62-53) with 9:38 left. An 11-2 run made the lead 64-53 after a pair of foul shots by Haddock with 8:44 left and two fouls shots by Booth made it 66-53 (8:14) before Toney scored again (22nd point) to snap a 2:47 scoreless drought for NJCU. Booth responded with a basket 17 seconds later (68-55). Junior small forward James Julius (Linden, NJ/Linden)’ first points of the game with 6:26 to play made it a 10-point deficit before Curry converted a layup for the 70-58 margin prior to Toney’s late heroics.

QUOTABLES:

Head Coach Marc Brown—

On how this team pulled off yet another comeback: “Just grit and Sam Toney (Plainfield, NJ/Williamstown) caught fire. It’s really that simple. The guys came out poorly again and we have to find a way to play better for 40 minutes. But these guys don’t quit and they didn’t quit on me. We had a fiery halftime speech and me and the other coaches dug into them at halftime. Once we got it within 10 we thought we got control of the game but Rowan pushed the lead back up.”

On how special a player Sam Toney (Plainfield, NJ/Williamstown) is: “He’s an unbelievably confident scorer who’s hard to stop when he gets going. But we can’t be a consistent team if it’s only Sam and Lavrone [Green]. Sam has saved us five times this year and Lavrone has saved us twice.”

“It’s hard not to get used to it [Sam playing at this level]. When he really gets what we need him to do defensively, he’s going to have a special career. I’m dumbfounded. That never happens. He’s a special player and a special person and I’m just happy to be coaching him and to have him for two more years after this.”

NOTABLES:

Series: 121st known meeting since. NJCU narrowly leads, 61-60.

NJCU ranked No. 20 in NCAA Division III by D3hoops.com.

Sam Toney (Plainfield, NJ/Williamstown) scored 30+ points for the fourth time this season and in his career—all against NJAC opponents. The performances:
36, at Rowan, January 6, 2018
36, vs. William Paterson, November 29, 2017 (1 OT)
31, vs. Kean, December 6, 2017
30, at Rutgers-Camden, December 2, 2017

Sam Toney (Plainfield, NJ/Williamstown) scored in double figures for the 29th time in 42 career games.

Sam Toney (Plainfield, NJ/Williamstown) scored at least 20 points in a game for the 11th time in his career and the eighth time in 13 games this season.

Chika Wosu (Jersey City, NJ/University Academy Charter)) reached double figures in scoring for the third time in his career. He matched his career high of 12 vs. William Paterson (November 29) also scored 11 at Rutgers-Camden (December 2).

In overall games through January 6, Sam Toney (Plainfield, NJ/Williamstown) leads the NJAC in scoring 20.5 by +3.3 points over any other player and is second in the league in rebounding (8.5). He also leads the league in three-point percentage (.363), three-point field goals per game (2.8), and is fourth in field goal percentage (.472) but is only 19th in minutes played.

In conference-only action, Toney has a staggering lead over the rest of the league, averaging 26.7 points—7.6 points more than any other player. He also leads the NJAC in rebounding per game at 10.8 (+1.2 per game lead). He also leads in threes per game (3.3). His 160 points are 26 more than any other player despite playing one fewer game than eight of the 10 teams.

SOURCE: NJCU Athletics Press Release

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