Senior Khalif Toombs poured in a team-high 20 points, while teammate junior Matthew Hezekiah added 18 points and eight rebounds but it wasn't enough as NJIT avenged an earlier season loss to the Bulldogs, 72-63 at Fleisher Athletic Center Saturday.
The Highlanders were led by senior guard Chris Flores (6-195) with a game-high 24 points, while senior Ryan Woods (G-6-5-210) and freshman Ky Howard (G-6-3-185) added 10 each in the victory.
"Hezekiah and Toombs played their heart out today and I am sorry we came up short of the win," said SC State head coach Tim Carter. We didn't do a good job of controlling the boards and it hurt us down the stretch."
The Highlanders jumped out to a 15-8 lead off a dunk by senior guard Chris Flores (6-2, 195) at the 12:43 mark. Freshman guard Ky Howard's (6-3, 185) three-pointer gave the Highlander's a commanding 20-8 lead with 11:11 left in the first half.
Senior guard Ryan Woods (6-5, 210) put NJIT ahead 17, 26-9 on a long range three-pointer at the 7:00 mark. The Bulldogs sparked a quick comeback to cut the lead to 10, 26-16 off a three-pointer by junior guard Adama "Louie" Adams () with 4:13 left in the half.
NJIT kept things going on a jumper by senior center Sean McCarthy (6-10, 250) with 1:58 left before halftime.
Senior guard PJ Miller's (6-3, 175) driving layup with less than 0:45 seconds left closed out the first-half with NJIT leading by 14, 34-20.
The Highlanders dominated the boards in the first half out-rebounding the Bulldogs 34-20.
SC State closed the gap early in the second-half to pull within six, 36-30 on off a layup by Hezekiah at the 14:07 mark. Junior forward Quentin Bastian's (6-6, 240) layup with 9:19 left in regulation sparked an 18-4 run to extend the lead to 19, 53-34.
Toombs nailed a three-pointer and tossed in a pair of free-throws to cut the lead to10, 59-49 with 3:05 left. The Highlanders tossed hit key free-throws down the stretch to extend the lead to 13, 70-57 with 0:44 seconds left in the contest.
Toombs nailed another three-pointer to cut the lead to nine,72-63 but NJIT held on to avenge an early season loss to SC State. The New Jersey native finished 3-of-3 from behind the three-point line on the night.
NJIT dominated the boards in the game leading the way 40-28 over SC State. Both team had a costly night on turnovers with the Bulldogs leading the way with 18, while the Highlanders managed 16.
Carter stated, "We are very young at the shooting guard spot but something we have to work on as the season progress."
SC State returns to action on Wednesday, when they host Jacksonville University in a non-conference matchup. Tip-off is 7:30 p.m.