For the first time since the CCNY’s winter break, the Men’s Basketball team got a win when it was most needed. The only difference is that this time around, the win came against a surprising opponent.
The Beavers upset John Jay 79-71 in Harlem Saturday afternoon, not only ending their eight-game losing streak – their longest such streak since 2011-12 – but also put themselves in prime position to sneak into the playoffs with a win against Medgar Evers in the regular season finale on Tuesday. If the regular season ended Saturday, City would take the eighth and final playoff spot since they own the tiebreaker over the Cougars.
“Just getting a ‘W’ today was important for us mentally,” CCNY head coach Tom Green joyfully said after the game. “Just to start feeling good about ourselves, all the hard work our guys have been putting in, working in practice finally pays off with a ‘W.’”
The win against John Jay on Saturday was City’s first against the Bloodhounds since they defeated them 71-68 back on Jan. 23, 2013.
City played what may have been their best game of the season, shooting a season-high 49.1 percent from the court, including going 6-for-15 from beyond the arc.
“It’s a very pleasant change and a very happy change for us to put the ball in the basket a little more often,” Green added.
Sophomore Khalil Hamer registered another double-double, tying for a game-high 20 points with 11 rebounds.
“This win is huge,” Hamer said. “For us to get confidence back, get it ready to go into the playoffs, we got one more big game against Medgar that we really need to win.
“I think this is good for everybody’s confidence.”
If there’s anybody’s confidence that went up after Saturday, it’s definitely guard Saleh Nasser.
Nasser scored a career-high 17 points, shooting 50 percent (5-for-10) form the court including going 4-for-8 from beyond the arc.
“Considering the fact that this was one of the games we had to win to get into the playoffs, I think it’s a very big win for us.”
Saturday marked the second straight time in as many games that he’s scored in double digits this season. The only other time he came close to scoring in double digits was back on Nov. 29 against The College of New Jersey when he scored nine points.
Senior Anthony Lewis scored 16 points on the day in the win, marking his fourth straight game scoring in double digits since his flat, eight-point effort against Lehman on Jan. 30. He still leads the Beavers scoring, averaging 18.8 points per game with Hamer right behind him, averaging 18.5 points per game.
“Today was an amazing game,” Lewis mentioned. “Number one thing, we played as a team.”
Sophomore Ram Chadha also played one of the best games of his season, scoring eight points with a career-high nine rebounds.
“We finally played well as a team,” he said.
Both the Beavers and Bloodhounds traded baskets back in forth in a tightly contested first half that saw City go up by as much as six with 3:50 left sparked by three three-pointers by Nasser. John Jay rallied late, ending the half on a 13-6 run in the final 3:40 to make it a one point game for City, 32-31 at halftime.
“We knew we were a better team than them,” Chadha added.
City went up by as much as 17 with 8:26 left, 58-41, but John Jay rallied back once more, pulling to within seven after a 12-2 run, then cut the lead all the way down to as much as four, 72-68 with 34 seconds left. City clinched the win in the final seconds off of free throws by both Hamer and Nasser and Lewis put the exclamation mark on the night with a dunk in transition in the final seconds.
While the win against John Jay put the Beavers back in the playoff chase for now, they’ll need to win two in a row to play in next weekend’s CUNYAC tournament and that second win has to come against Medgar Evers on Tuesday night. City hasn’t won back-to-back games since Jan. 9-12.
The Beavers squeaked by the Cougars 65-64 on Jan. 9 in Brooklyn, winning the game on a solid defensive stand in the final seconds.