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Fifth-Seeded TCNJ Over Top-Seeded Rowan

GLASSBORO, NJ  - Top-seeded Rowan couldn’t overcome fifth-seeded TCNJ as the Profs fell in the semifinals of the 2024 NJAC Men’s Basketball Championship, 79-73. The defending champion Profs (19-7) will now await a possible at-large selection to the NCAA Tournament, which will be announced on Monday.  

TCNJ moves on to play second-seeded Stockton in the conference title game on Saturday, as the Ospreys defeated Montclair State, 91-77. Nick Koch (25 points) and Matthew Okurie (21 points) led the Lions (18-8). 


Khalif Meares, the league’s Co-Defensive Player of the Year, had 21 points to lead the Profs, with NJAC Player of the Ja’Zere Noel scoring 15 and grabbing 13 rebounds for his 16th double-double of the year. Marcellus Ross, an All-Conference selection, had 13 points and Jamir Spivey scored 10.  


TCNJ held a slim lead for the majority of the first half but broke things open with an 11-0 run in the final four minutes of the half. Okurie had the final five points of that spurt, with a dunk and a three-pointer as the Lions held their biggest lead of the game, 46-31, at halftime.  


TCNJ was able to stay ahead the rest of the game, despite the comeback efforts from Rowan. TCNJ missed its first seven shots of the second half and Rowan cut the deficit to single digits but was never able to pull ahead.  


A three-pointer by Chris McCarron at 9:37 cut the TCNJ lead to 56-50, but Koch answered with back-to-back baskets and the Lions were up again by 10, 60-50.  


Consecutive threes from Noel and McCarron brought Rowan within 65-59 at 6:36 but James Beckwith hit a three-pointer to give TCNJ a 68-59 cushion.  


Meares scored four straight and Rowan trailed by just 71-65 with 2:04 remaining but the Profs wouldn’t score again until Ross hit a three-pointer at :27 to cut TCNJ’s lead to 74-71. But the Lions sealed it from the foul line, making 6-of-8 in the final 14 seconds.  


TCNJ made 50 percent from the field in the second half but only 30 percent in the second, while the Profs shot 38 percent in both halves. 


The NCAA Championship Selection Show can be seen on on Monday at 1 p.m.