Threepeat! Stockton Wins NJAC Championship - Feb 29, 2016
Stockton University (21-6) struggled early on offense but used a stifling defense to come away with the program's third straight NJAC title, 60-53 over a tough College of New Jersey (16-12) squad on Saturday night. The Ospreys won three consecutive NJAC championships for the first time in school history. The title was Stockton's fifth in the last nine years and ninth overall. Maurice Hart (6'5''-F) (Asbury Park/Asbury Park) came off the bench to top all players with game highs of 17 points, 14 rebounds, three steals and two blocks. With the win, Stockton earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament for the third year in a row and 16th time in school history. The Ospreys struggled with poor shooting early as the Lions jumped out to an 11-5 lead. TCNJ increased the advantage to 21-12 with 4:23 left in the first half before the Ospreys started to show signs of life. A 10-4 run to finish the period brought Stockton within 25-22 at the break. Jaymere Hadden (6'4''-F) (Millville/Millville) scored six markers during the spurt. Stockton trailed by just three points despite shooting only 7-31 (22.6%) in the first half. At the start of the second half, the Lions looked like they would take control of the contest, leading 30-24 before Tom Catanoso (6'0''-PG) (Cape May CH/Middle Twp.) scored eight consecutive points on two three-pointers and a layup to give Stockton their first lead of the night at 32-30. The visitors grabbed their last advantage at 38-37 with 12:02 left before Stockton wrested control of the game. Six points by Hart and two each from Hadden and Armin Cane (6'2''-PG) (Pleasantville/Pleasantville) put Stockton ahead 47-44 before Catanoso nailed another three to make it 50-44 with 4:27 left. A three-pointer by Marcus Harmon (6'5''-F) (Whitesboro/Middle Twp.) later gave the Ospreys their biggest margin of the night at 55-48 with 2:09 remaining, but the Lions staged one last attempt at victory. Five quick points by TCNJ cut the lead to 55-53 with 1:07 left before a layup by Hart and three foul shots by Harmon clinched the NJAC championship, 60-53. In addition to Hart's big night, Catanoso scored 14 points, one off of his career high. He shot 4-8 from behind the arc and pilfered two steals. Hadden added 12 markers and two assists, with Cane chipping in with nine points and a team-high three assists. Stockton's defense held the Lions to 29.3% (17-58) shooting on the evening. They also forced 16 turnovers that led to 21 points. TCNJ was led by Eric Murdock (6'1''-G), Jr. who tallied 16 points and dished a game-high six assists. Elias Bermudez (6'4''-F) and Eric Klacik (5'9''-PG) scored 13 points each, with Klacik grabbing a team-high 10 boards for a double-double.
NJAC Tournament Final: Stockton - TCNJ 60-53 NJAC Tournament Semifinals: Rutgers-Newark - Stockton 75-95 TCNJ - New Jersey City 92-82
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