Junior Nesho Milosevic
Nov. 10, 2007
NEWARK, NJ - Antoine Pearson's game-high 19 points led visiting Manhattan in a 70-28 men's basketball win Saturday afternoon in the season opener for both teams played in the Estelle and Zoom Fleisher Athletic Center.
Pearson, a sophomore guard, shot 6-for-7 from the field overall and was 3-for-3 on three-point tries and 4-for-4 on free throws. Manhattan also got 13 points off the bench from junior forward Devon Austin.
NJIT's leading scorer was junior forward Nesho Milosevic with 8 points.
The Manhattan defense held NJIT to 17 points in the first half and 11 in the second half, as the Highlanders managed eight field goals on 48 attempts in the game.
Manhattan also outrebounded NJIT, 45-31, led by freshman forward Andrew Gabriel's 9 rebounds. He was one of four Jaspers with at least six rebounds.
NJIT sophomore center Dan Stonkus led his team with 9 rebounds, followed by Milosevic, with eight.
The game began competitively, as the teams held each other in check for several minutes.
Manhattan did not reach double-figures until it took a 10-6 lead with 13:19 left in the first half and the Jaspers led, 15-12, with 11 minutes left.
However, they took what would become permanent control of the game with an 11-0 spurt in 2:26 for a 26-12 lead with 7:39 left. Four different players scored in the run.
Manhattan stretched its lead to 35-17 at the half, paced by 10 points from Austin, who shot 4-for-5 in the opening half. Pearson (7 points) was 3-for-3. Milosevic had six first-half points to pace NJIT.
Trailing by 19 early in the second half, NJIT scored consecutive baskets off of steals by freshman Justin Garris, cutting the deficit to 15--36-21, with 16:30 left.
Garris stole the ball from Pearson just past midcourt and finished the play with a dunk off of a feed from Jheryl Wilson at 17:19.
Forty-nine seconds later, Garris deflected the ball away from Pearson again and this time Wilson drove for a layup with 16:30 left.
The Highlanders could not get closer than the 15-point deficit, going ice cold the rest of the way, as they scored only seven points on a bucket and five free throws over the last 16:30 of the game.
Easily lost in the final score was the fact that NJIT came out of halftime playing hard on defense and rebounding in the beginning of the second half.
A check of the stats at the 11:55 media timeout revealed that NJIT's defense had limited the Jaspers to just four points more than eight minutes into the second half, as the Jaspers made shot just 1-for-11 from field in the first 8:05 of the half.
The problem for the Highlanders was that they couldn't take advantage of their strong defensive effort, managing just six points of their own for a slim 6-4 lead in the first 8:05 of the second half.
Having been badly outrebounded (23-12) in the first half, NJIT came out and more than held its own on the boards, pulling down 11 rebounds to 9 for the visitors in the opening 8:05 of the second half.
NJIT's strong rebounding continued to the eight-minute media timeout, as NJIT built a 16-12 advantage on the boards in the first 12:21 of the second half. But the inability to make shots and add points precluded any kind of comeback and Manhattan got hot late, adding more points to its already substantial bulge.
Saturday's win for Manhattan pulls the Jaspers even at 1-1 in the all-time series vs. NJIT. Last November 11 at Manhattan, NJIT stunned the then-defending Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference regular season champions, 56-55, in the 2006-07 opener.
Things do not get easier for NJIT, as the Highlanders will leave Monday for a transcontinental flight to Seattle, where they will face Washington on Tuesday night (11 pm EST) in the opening round of the 2007 Dick's Sporting NIT Season Tip-Off.
The following night, NJIT faces another tall order. Win or lose, the Highlanders will face either Utah or High Point. Utah a perennial national power, struggled to just 11 wins last year, but has been to the NCAA Division I tournament 26 times and was national runner-up as recently as 1998. High Point won 23 games last season.