By Tanner Price
Montclair State University suffered yet another heartbreaking playoff exit on Tuesday, losing 91-86 to the Stockton Ospreys in the quarterfinals version of the Battle of The Birds. The Ospreys dominated the first half, and MSU was lucky that it was only a 51-45 Stockton lead at halftime. Stockton would come out of the locker room surging, and with 9:18 left in the game, the Ospreys took a 76-66 lead, which at the time looked insurmountable. As they had been all season, the Red Hawks would become the comeback kids, and with 3:09, tied the game at 81-81
MSU would take their first lead in the game with 2:19 left on two free throws by Kieran Flanagan. Little did we know, the 2 points to take a 86-84 lead would be the last points by the Red Hawks this season. Montclair would commit costly fouls and a plethora of errant passes that led to Stockton taking the lead and holding on for the win. Stockton advances to the NJAC Finals to take on the #1 seed Rowan Profs.
One reason the Ospreys advanced was junior guard D.J. Campbell. Campbell had a breakout performance with 35 points and 6 rebounds. He was nearly unstoppable in the first half, putting up 29 of his 35 points then, but the damage had been done. MSU had a breakout star of their own, in freshman Samar Abdullah. Abdullah put up 15 points and was all over the court.
Steven Breeman put up a classic performance in his last game as a Red Hawk with 25 points and 6 rebounds. Breeman had always been a big game player and showed up in every big spot that he was needed to. Keyon Pryce also may have played his last game as a Red Hawk. Coming off a 31-point performance vs NJCU, Pryce had another strong game tonight Even though this season just ended, Breeman and Pryce might be the biggest losses the Red Hawks will suffer next season.
Breeman’s loss does not mean the Red Hawks do not have any talent left on the roster. Mike Jackson will still be in the fold and the aforementioned Samar Abdullah will be asked to take on a more significant role MSU will also have Amir Williams back next season.
There is no need to worry in Redhawk country. This team will be back. They will have an offseason to come back strong. Add new faces, and next season, soar to new heights. Sooner than you think, Panzer will open its doors yet again, and the crowd will roar louder than the coliseum, Rocky will be dancing supporting his team, and it will be tip-off time for the Red Hawks.