GLASSBORO, NJ – Marcellus Ross scored 20 points and Hafeez Melvin went 6-for-6 from the foul line in the final 29 seconds as Rowan held on to defeat Rutgers-Newark, 72-69, in the NJAC Men’s Basketball Semifinals and advance to the conference’s Championship game on Saturday at Stockton.
Second-seeded Rowan (23-4), which has won eight straight, will take on top-seeded Stockton on Saturday at 6 p.m. with the champion earning the NJAC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Melvin sealed the win for the Profs from the line hitting all six attempts although Rutgers-Newark scored eight points in the final 22 seconds, including a three-pointer at the buzzer, to provide the final margin.
With 3:30 remaining, Rutgers-Newark (17-9) scored five straight to cut Rowan’s lead to 64-61. Neither team scored for two minutes until Andrew Seager found Ross underneath for a layup, giving the Profs a 66-61 lead with 1:11. The visitors were then forced to foul and Melvin sealed the win for the Profs although Rutgers-Newark scored eight points in the final 22 seconds, including a three-pointer at the buzzer, to provide the final margin.
Josh Wright added 11 points for Rowan and the Profs got seven rebounds apiece from Ross, Seager and D’Andre Vilmar.
With Rowan holding its biggest lead of the game, 39-27, at the start of the second half, Rutgers-Newark scored seven straight points to get back into the contest, 39-34. A three-pointer from Wright stretched Rowan’s lead to double figures, 48-38, but the Scarlet Raiders again cut it to six points, 50-44, with 11:43 to play. From that point, the Profs’ biggest lead would be eight points.
Rutgers-Newark had the upper hand early in the game but Rowan went on a 9-0 run, helped by a four-point play from Wright and a three-point play by Ross, to overtake the Scarlet Raiders, 17-11. The Profs maintained the lead throughout the half, and by as much as 10 points, 31-21, with 3:17 remaining. Rutgers-Newark would cut it to six points, but Melvin connected on a three-pointer with :40 to go to allow Rowan to take a 36-27 lead into halftime.
This will Rowan’s first appearance in the championship game since the Profs won the title in 2019.