Clutch free throws land Lions on top of NJAC

Junior forward Bobby Davison buried the game-tying and winning free throws with 1.6 seconds left in overtime to give the Lions’ men’s basketball team a 73-72 win over Kean University on Saturday. It was the College’s second New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) victory of the week.

“Any win in this league is big,” head coach John Castaldo said. “It gets very, very competitive.”

The five-minute overtime period featured five ties and was not decided until the free throws from Davison, who also added nine rebounds on the day.

Trailing 72-71 with less than 10 seconds remaining, senior guard Mike Snyder pushed the ball up the floor in transition and advanced it across half-court to junior forward Scott Findlay, who dumped it down to Davison on the baseline, where he was fouled by a swarm of Cougars while attempting a lay-up. After a timeout from Castaldo, Davison, who bricked a pair of free throws earlier in the game, was sent to the line to nail the game winning free throws, which were also his only points of the game.

The College now stands atop the NJAC with a perfect 3-0 conference record and a 4-1 overall mark.

Findlay led the College with his dominating post play, recording 22 points, 12 rebounds and three steals. Senior guard Kyle Burke chipped in 20 points with six threes.

The College entered halftime trailing 31-30 but opened the second half on a tear. The Lions led by as much as 14 with 6:34 to go in the second half before the Cougars finished on a 16-2 charge.

Kean junior guard Tan Kesler and sophomore guard Bryan Miller combined for 12 points during the Cougars’ comeback in the last six minutes of regulation, including a fast break dunk from Miller with 1:24 to go to that left the game tied 64-64 at the end of regulation. Kesler also netted a game high 25 points.

Lions’ senior guard Derick Grant added 15 points but shot just 6-for-17 from the floor. Senior point guard Bobby Henning dished out nine assists.

The College shot 42 percent from the field and 46 percent from three point range, while Kean hit 38 percent from the field and 34 percent from three. The Lions shot 83 percent from the free throw line, including seven of eight in overtime.

The win was Castaldo’s 100th career NJAC victory.

On Wednesday, the Lions posted a 73-52 road win against Richard Stockton College.

“Stockton’s been a formidable opponent in the NJAC for years,” Castaldo said.

“It was a huge confidence booster beating Stockton,” Findlay said. “We were real anxious to get back on the court after the loss to Albright. We are back on the right track now.”

Grant, who was named NJAC Player of the Week, paced the Lions with 26 points and hit on six of nine three-point attempts as part of the College’s impressive 12-for-20 clip from three-point range on the game. Burke converted four of seven treys with 14 points and Davison hit both of his three point attempts.

“Obviously anytime you shoot over 40 percent from three point range, you’re doing pretty good,” Castaldo said. “You get an extra point on the offensive possession. That’s a big help.”

The Ospreys converted just four of 26 three-point tries for a 15 percent rate and finished with just 31 percent shooting from the field.

Findlay chipped in 10 points and six boards.

The Lions will travel to Delaware on Monday to take on Wesley College at 7 p.m.