TCNJ tries to fo­cus on league-lead­ing Mont­clair State

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - SPORTS - By Joe O’Gor­man jo­gor­[email protected]­to­nian.com j_o­gor­man819 on Twit­ter

Un­for­tu­nately, it wasn’t just Mont­clair State that was on the mind of The Col­lege of New Jer­sey men’s bas­ket­ball team this week as it strug­gled to deal with the tragic loss of a friend and class­mate, Michael Sot, this week.

The tragic ac­ci­dent has taken a toll on the en­tire cam­pus and on Satur­day the bas­ket­ball team will look for a way to put it to­gether against New Jer­sey Ath­letic Con­fer­ence leader Mont­clair State at Packer Hall in a 4 p.m. start.

Over the last few games, the Li­ons (4-3, 3-1 NJAC) have been play­ing well and pos­sess a three-game win­ning streak. The Red Hawks (81, 4-0 NJAC) are com­ing off an im­pres­sive win over pre­sea­son fa­vorite New Jer­sey City and have also won three straight.

“Their size and ath­leti­cism might be the best in the coun­try,” said TCNJ coach Matt Gold­smith. “They are huge and ex­tremely ath­letic. The big thing we have to do is re­bound well, if we can do that we will be in the game. We are ex­cited for the chal­lenge and can’t wait.”

The Red Hawks are outscor­ing the op­po­si­tion by 12.2 points per game and have a league-best 13.2 re­bound­ing ad­van­tage.

On the boards, the Li­ons will look to Ryan Jensen, who grabs 6.7 car­oms per game, Randy Walko with 5.7 and Jor­dan Glover with 5.6.

While Walko has been a help on the boards, his of­fense has teams pay­ing at­ten­tion.

He leads the con­fer­ence with 21 points per game and has been the cat­a­lyst for the Li­ons in wins over Rowan, Rut­gers-Ne­wark and Rut­gers-Cam­den.

“We all knew Randy could score with the best of them,” said Gold­smith. “What has re­ally been nice to see has been in im­proved de­fen­sive fo­cus and ef­fort. When he is en­gaged on that end, 20 points come easy to him.”

Right be­hind Walko in the scor­ing col­umn is MSU’s Ak­bar Hoff­man, who av­er­ages 20.3 points. Hoff­man matched his ca­reer high of 31 points in the Red Hawks’ win over NJCU.

This is a game that will fea­ture two for­mer Lawrence High team­mates as TCNJ’s Jor­dan Glover with tan­gle with MSU’s Myles Mitchel­lWhite. Mitchell-White is the reign­ing NJAC Rookie of the Year.

Mont­clair State is a team re­ceiv­ing votes in the D3hoops.com poll. Don’t over­look the Li­ons, though. “This team is def­i­nitely start­ing to click a bit more in the last cou­ple weeks,” said Gold­smith. “We started off with a bru­tal sched­ule, two top-25 teams. Then Rowan was 4-0, Ne­wark as 4-1 and Stock­ton is play­ing well. I am happy with our progress as a group and ex­pect it to con­tinue as the sea­son move for­ward.”

JON LAM­BERT — TCNJ ATH­LET­ICS

TCNJ’s Randy Walko leads the NJAC in scor­ing at 21 points per game.

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