Gothic Knights Basketball Season Comes to Exciting Close


Ismael J. Ramos-Peñaherrera

On a cold and rainy Wednesday night, The College of New Jersey Lions made it rain threes against the NJCU Gothic Knights, which ultimately led to the 92-82 defeat of the home team in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Tournament Semifinals.

NJCU had a 10-1 regular season home record before the game started. Their one loss came at the hands of, ironically, TCNJ.

“They hit us right in the mouth from the door,” said NJCU Head Coach Marc Brown of the Lions’ hot start. “They came in loose and took it to us from the beginning of the game.”

The Gothic Knights came into the game riding a five game winning streak and having won nine of their last 10 games, but got off to a slow start in the first half of this one. They shot just 37.8 percent from the field and 12.5 percent from three.

The Lions went on an early 11-2 run and knocked down their first seven three-point field goals. They went on to take what was their largest lead of the game leading the home squad 25-6 at the 13:40 mark. The College of New Jersey led 48-33 by halftime and finished the half shooting 52.9 percent from behind the arc.

The Knights fought back in the second half and began it with a 16-6 run. They got as close as they ever would in the game, cutting the deficit to just five, trailing 54-49 at the 15:05 mark.

They were attacking the basket, pushing the pace, and pressuring the ball on defense. But the Lions continued their hot shooting and never let up, resulting in the upset.

Junior shooting guard Jalen Harris netted a team-high 21 points and dished out six assists for the Gothic Knights in the loss.

NJCU senior small forward Khalid Muhammad was one rebound shy of a double-double while scoring 18 points.

Sophomore guard Eric Murdock, Jr. scored a career-high 36 points and played the entire game for the Lions.

“I was completely disappointed. It’s hard to be positive and upbeat,” said Brown of the end result. “We knew who we had to stop and we didn’t execute, offensively or defensively.”

Metro Championship

Although their bid for the New Jersey Athletic Conference title ended on a sour note, the season as a whole should still be considered pretty sweet as the Gothic Knights went on to capture their record 7th Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Metro championship after their fall in the NJAC Semifinals.

They routed Ithaca College 87-65. Jalen Harris won the award for the Most Outstanding Player of the ECAC Tournament after scoring a combined 45 points in the team’s three-game run to the championship.

“The title run means a lot,” said Brown after the title victory. “To finish the season on a high note and send our seniors out the right way…In my heart I thought we should have been in the NCAA Tournament. Things didn’t work out but this is the next best thing.”

NJCU was under .500 last season going 13-14 but improved greatly this year with an overall season record of 21-8.

Senior power forward Chinwe Wosu was named the 2015-16 NJAC Defensive Player of the Year. Harris and Wosu were selected to the All-NJAC Second-Team as well.

Muhammad reached a milestone in his final year, moving into 16th place in school history in scoring, with 1,257 points. He was also named Honorable Mention All-NJAC.

Small forward James Frazier was named NJAC Rookie of the Week four times and ECAC Division III Metro Rookie of the Week twice.

Coach Brown won the NJAC Coach of the Year award for the second time in his career and also became the second winningest coach in school history with 136 wins. He trails only his father, Charles Brown, who has 483 wins.

Brown led the Gothic Knights to the NJAC regular season title with a 15-3 record in conference play as well. It was the first time they had done so in nine years.

With what was an exciting season now in the rear-view mirror, the team will surely look to build on its success and improve on its deficiencies to go even further next year.